Restrictions On Predator Hunting Will Help Prevent Steep and Long Term Depression of Predator Populations

Good news for Alaska’s Wildlife and Wolves
Over the past decade, the National Park Service has objected to at least 50 proposals by Alaska wildlife officials to liberalize the killing of predators within national preserves. The conflict can be traced back to 1994, when the Alaska Legislature passed a law mandating that the Board of Game pursue intensive management “to maintain, restore, or increase the abundance of big game prey populations for human consumptive use,” according to a 2007 article in the Alaska Law Review by University of Alaska, Fairbanks, professor Julie Lurman and NPS subsistence manager Sanford Rabinowitch.
“Predator control”, which aims to suppress numbers of bears, wolves and coyotes in order to boost prey species, including moose and caribou, is incompatible with the Park Service’s mandate to preserve “natural ecosystems,” including at its 20 million acres of national preserves in Alaska (Sport hunting, illegal in national parks, is allowed in Alaska’s national preserves under a law Congress passed in 1980).
NPS first proposed a permanent ban on three predator hunting practices in 2014. These practices were illegal under Alaska law until approval (several years ago) by the state’s Board of Game. That proposal bans the baiting of brown ‪‎bears‬, the hunting of wolves and‪ coyotes‬ during the denning and pupping period, and the use of artificial light to shoot black bear sows and cubs at their dens, a technique known as “spotlighting.”
Now, after a long and heated battle, National Park Service will implement tighter restrictions on sport hunting with the closure regulations become effective Nov. 23, and new hunting regulations effective January 1st of next year. State officials, needless to say, are not pleased.
The new restrictions include these changes to sport hunting regulations on national preserves:

*NPS prohibits taking wolves and coyotes during the denning season.
*NPS prohibits the taking of any black bear using artificial lights at den sites including cubs and sows with cubs.
*NPS prohibits taking brown and black bears over bait.
*NPS will not allow hunters to use dogs to hunt black bears, while it is permitted by state rules.
*NPS will not allow hunters to shoot swimming caribou from a boat or shoot caribou that have emerged from the water onto the shoreline while the hunter is still on the boat, though state rules permit both.


The manipulation of natural population dynamics conflicts with National Park Service law and policy. National park areas are managed to maintain natural ecosystems and processes, including wildlife populations and their behaviors. While sport hunting is allowed by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act in national preserves in Alaska, NPS policies prohibit reducing native predators for the purpose of increasing numbers of harvested species.

For years, the National Park Service had repeatedly requested the State of Alaska and the Alaska Board of Game to exempt national preserves from state regulations that liberalized hunting methods, seasons and bag limits for predators. State officials denied those requests, as well as also objecting to the use of repeated temporary federal closures.

“Sport hunting” occurs on about 38 percent  (more than 20 million acres) of the land managed by the National Park Service in Alaska. In these national preserves, sport hunting generally occurs under state regulations. Though a large majority of state sport hunting regulations would remain unchanged, this is an enormous step in the right direction and puts a stop to these abhorrent acts of inhumanity in and around Alaska’s national parks and preserves.

National Park System areas, including preserves, already prohibit other predator control actions, such as aerial shooting of wolves, a horrific practice which the State of Alaska conducts as part of its statewide wildlife “management” program.

Featured Graphic: National Parks Conservation Association

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Wolves are a symbol of wilderness and ecological integrity. They are important in their own right and as a key part of a functioning predator- prey system. In Southeast Alaska, wolves bring significant economic benefits to communities as part of the package that lures more than one million visitors to the Tongass National Forest every year and that contributes more than $1 billion to the Southeast Alaska economy.

From Audubon Alaska:

Old-Growth Logging: The True Culprit behind Drastic Wolf Declines in the Tongass

In response to an Alaska Department of Fish and Game report in May that revealed a drastic decline in the wolf population on Prince of Wales and surrounding islands, Audubon Alaska’s science and policy team developed a report, Prince of Wales Wolves, examining the underlying reason for the decline: large-scale, old-growth, clearcut logging.

“The alarming population decline is most immediately caused by the direct take of wolves from significant poaching and the unsustainable legal take authorized by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, but the underlying cause is extensive logging and roads that initiate many harmful effects, including overharvest of wolves,” said Melanie Smith, Audubon Alaska’s Director of Conservation Science.

The Audubon Alaska report points out three ways old-growth logging has and will continue to drastically impact the wolf population on Prince of Wales:

  • 4,200 miles of logging roads on Prince of Wales and surrounding islands allow poachers easy access into wolf habitat.
  • Clearcutting old-growth trees removes crucial winter habitat for wolves’ main prey, Sitka black-tailed deer, ultimately resulting in a lower deer population.
  • The reduced deer numbers, in turn, make some people perceive wolves as competition for hunting, “leading to increased poaching and public pressure to authorize unsustainable legal limits on wolf take to drive down the wolf population.”

Large-scale, clearcut logging is one of the root causes of the wolf population crash on Prince of Wales. Logging roads built to support timber harvest provide relatively easy access to the wolf population for poachers and legal hunters and trappers. Over a longer time frame, the impacts on foraging habitat for deer will result in further reduction of the deer population which in turn impacts the wolf population. Without immediate policy changes on the part of the state and federal governments, the Prince of Wales Complex population appears to be on its way to extinction.

At this point, the Forest Service has disregarded the evidence of the probable impacts of its timber program on wolves and other wildlife populations on Prince of Wales (such as Queen Charlotte goshawks). Its focus on large-scale logging of old-growth timber in the Tongass puts forest management there 20 to 40 years behind the rest of the nation. The time has come for the Forest Service to manage the Tongass for a host of public values that support the Southeast Alaska tourism and fishing economy of today. To do that, the Forest Service needs to aggressively close timber roads in the Prince of Wales Complex, halt logging and road-building for the Big Thorne timber sale, and end large-scale old-growth timber sales in the Prince of Wales Island region and, more generally, across the Tongass.

The USFWS should list the Prince of Wales Complex wolf population under the ESA. The GMU2 population historically made up one third of the total Alexander Archipelago wolf population in Southeast Alaska, and research has shown that this population is genetically isolated from mainland Alexander Archipelago wolves. A declaration of threatened or endangered status for the population is a logical step toward recovery of this ecologically important and genetically distinct predator that symbolizes the wilderness of the Tongass.

Please send off these tweets on behalf of the Alexander Archipelago Wolves:

.@SecretaryJewell The decline of #ArchipelagoWolves is a management problem that desperately needs fixing:  Tweet4ArchipelagoWolves

.@usfs Pls do not disregarded the evidence and the impacts of your timber program on #ArchipelagoWolves  Tweet4ArchipelagoWolves

.@usfs Large-scale #logging of old-growth timber in the #Tongass puts forest management there 20 to 40 years behind the rest of the nation  Tweet4ArchipelagoWolves

.@DirectorDanAshe The True Culprit behind Drastic Wolf Declines in the Tongass Protect #ArchipelagoWolves  Tweet4ArchipelagoWolves

.@interior Protect #ArchipelagoWolves an ecologically important & genetically distinct predator symbolic of the wilderness of the Tongass  Tweet4ArchipelagoWolves





‪‎Wyoming‬ has been fighting Washington over delisting since 2003, objecting to the federal standards and offering its own plan for controlling wolf populations. Wyoming treated wolves as “vermin” and allowed them to be hunted along the borders of Yellowstone National Park and throughout National Forest lands south of Jackson Hole.
219 wolves were killed in 80% of Wyoming opened to “unlimited” killing since the delisting in late August 2012.
Overruling U.S. wildlife officials, a federal judge (Amy Berman Jackson) restored protections for gray wolves in Wyoming in September 2014.
Wyoming’s kill-on-sight attitude as a wolf management plan throughout much of the state is a disgrace. Wyoming officials need to be conscious of the fact that “sport” (trophy) hunting of wolves is inconsistent with the need for continued protections for this essential, iconic species. Labeling the wolf as a predator that could be shot in four-fifths of the state is hardly a way to treat a species freshly removed from the ESA.
Cast your vote. How should Wyoming’s wolf population be managed~certainly not by the state, please choose the first option: “The current federal controls will protect the population.”