Alaska Dispatch: Alaska game board shoots down bid for Denali wolf buffer

ADN article by Zaz Hollander, February 24th, 2017.

Read the full article at Alaska Dispatch News

The Alaska Board of Game has summarily rejected a no-kill zone for wolves on state lands north and east of Denali National Park and Preserve during its first consideration of the contentious wolf buffer since 2010.

The unanimous and fairly quick vote of the seven-member board came Friday afternoon during a weeklong meeting in Fairbanks amid heavy pressure from the public, wolf advocacy groups and the National Park Service to ban hunting and trapping on state lands next to the park.

A Park Service study last year linked the presence of a buffer to more wolf sightings for Denali visitors, though dens near the park road were a bigger factor. Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologists say relatively low numbers of moose, caribou and sheep influence wolves more than any buffer.

The board’s decision marks the latest salvo in a long and recently inflamed war over predator-control policy between state and federal officials.

A Park Service proposal called on the board to close a 150-square-mile area, including the Stampede Corridor, to hunting and trapping during the spring breeding season and into the summer. Another proposal from the Denali Citizens Council and Alaska Wildlife Alliance also included Nenana Canyon and called for a year-round ban.

The board voted down the broader proposal, rendering the Park Service proposal moot. They did not vote on it.

Continue reading the full article at Alaska Dispatch News…

AWA and other conservation groups join lawsuits on predator control

Press Release from Trustees for Alaska: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Feb. 8, 2017

Contacts:
Pat Lavin, Alaska Representative, Defenders of Wildlife
plavin@defenders.org, 907-276-9410
Jim Adams, Alaska Regional Director, National Parks Conservation Association
jadams@npca.org, 907-538-5898, available after 1:30p Alaska time
Fran Mauer, wildlife biologist, board member, Alaska Chapter of Wilderness Watch
fmauer@mosquitonet.com, 907-455-6829
Michelle Sinnott, Staff Attorney, Trustees for Alaska
msinnott@trustees.org, 907-433-2011

Conservation groups join lawsuits on predator control

Over a dozen conservation groups filed a request in federal court today to defend regulations protecting wildlife in National Preserves and National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska.

The motion filed by Trustees for Alaska on behalf of 15 clients is in response to two separate lawsuits filed by the State of Alaska and the Safari Club last month. The two lawsuits challenge National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regulations prohibiting aggressive sport hunting methods targeting bears and wolves on Preserves and Refuges.

“The State wants to kill wolves and bears to increase moose and caribou, but that’s not the purpose of these lands,” said Fran Mauer, a former wildlife biologist and board member for the Alaska Chapter of Wilderness Watch. “Alaskans and Americans go to these areas for a lot of different reasons, and we experience them in a lot of different ways. Most people want to see wildlife with its natural dynamics and populations intact. It will profoundly diminish our experiences if these lands are manipulated as game farms.”

“Refuge and Preserve lands are managed for biological integrity and diversity,” said Pat Lavin, the Alaska representative for Defenders of Wildlife. “The state’s extreme methods remove predators wholesale from the landscape and have no place on these lands. Alaskans and Americans treasure our phenomenal wildlife and don’t want to see iconic species managed to scarcity.”

The National Park Service and the Fish & Wildlife Service manage wildlife on Preserves and Refuges to protect natural diversity of wildlife. These agencies generally allow the State of Alaska to regulate sport hunting, but they do not allow the State to regulate sport hunting in a way aimed at significantly reducing wolf and bear populations.

The lawsuits filed by the state and Safari Club run counter to Alaska’s economic interests. “Visitors to Alaska come to see wildlife, particularly bears,” said Jim Adams, the Alaska Regional Director of the National Parks Conservation Association. “The 2.6 million park and preserve visitors in 2015 spent an estimated $1.2 billion in local gateway regions and supported 17.6 thousand jobs.”

Trustees for Alaska is a non-profit public interest environmental law firm founded and based in Alaska to defend and protect Alaska lands, waters, wildlife and communities. Trustees filed today’s motion to intervene on behalf of 15 conservation groups:

The Alaska Wildlife Alliance
Alaskans for Wildlife
Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges
Denali Citizens Council
Copper Country Alliance
Kachemak Bay Conservation Society
Defenders of Wildlife
National Parks Conservation Association
National Wildlife Refuge Association
Northern Alaska Environmental Center
The Wilderness Society
Wilderness Watch
Alaska Chapter of the Sierra Club
Center for Biological Diversity
The Humane Society of the United States

Study: Economic Values of Wolves in Denali National Park and Preserve (DNPP)

denali-econ-study-coverA study commissioned by Denali National Park and Preserve on the economic value of wolf-related tourism has been released. This is an initial study, with recommendations for further study.

Note in the study summary: “…it can be inferred that a non-resident visitor may have an additional value in the range of $200-$300 per wildlife viewing trip to Alaska if a wolf is seen on their trip.”

There are 600,000 visits to Denali each year.

Download the report here (pdf document, 760k): http://akwildlife.org/Documents/Loomis-Economic-Values-of-Wolves-in-Denali-NPP-Final-3-30-2016.pdf