Sent: Saturday, May 09, 2015 12:55 PM
Subject: Denali wolves emergency closure
Dear Mr. Dale,
I spoke with you briefly at the recent Board of Game meeting regarding wolf numbers in Unit 20C overall and adjacent to Denali Park. At that time I mentioned that ADF&G had, in its most recent management report, established a density goal for wolves, and that numbers both inside the park portion of 20C and in the GMU as a whole are well below that density number.
Although it is unclear if the Department intends to adopt management practices to support that density goal, it is nevertheless in print as a goal. Despite this goal, the Board of Game recently increased the hunting bag limit from 5 to 10 wolves in 20C, next to the park, and continues to maintain a late hunting season, until May 31st. Now, with wolf numbers lower inside Denali and packs vulnerable to hunting in the townships north of the park, the density numbers will fall again.
I, and my organization, the Denali Citizens Council, support an emergency closure of the remaining wolf hunting season on state lands northeast of Denali National Park, as a way to support wolves who den in the park and predictably venture into the Wolf Townships, and as a way for the department to manage for its stated density goals. This pattern of wolf out-migration from Denali has been in place since the 1980s and happens whether or not the park has a “prey problem,” following late winter cyclic-migration of caribou. It is well known that the East Fork wolves denned close to the northern boundary this year, and the pack has already suffered three trapping/hunting losses, one a pregnant female. There are 22 days left in the season and no guarantee that the alpha female of the East Fork pack will not be shot.
It is well within your purview and authority to do an emergency closure now, based on Fish and Game-stated density goals and management vision for wolves. The fact that the statewide population of wolves is not threatened should not be an impediment to making this closure, as the Department often manages at the subunit level when the situation demands. Many folks have stressed to you the importance of these wolves to those who visit the Denali region. Their importance for the viewing public is not simply a National Park goal, it is a stated goal in published ADF&G documents.
In the history of this issue, there has been a tendency for the biologists to tell us that we must go the board of game and then for the board of game to send us back to the biologists. This reluctance to address the issue of Denali wolves from either side of your department has placed it in a sort of regulatory limbo for almost six years now. Meanwhile the wolf numbers have declined inside Denali to numbers so low that every single death gains significance, especially if the wolf is pregnant. Controlling human take at such times can be an effective tool for supporting Department goals.
The Denali Citizens Council is composed of close to 300 members, most of whom have lived or now live in communities around the park. Many of our members recently wrote to the Commissioner asking for this closure. Please don’t hand this closure off to the Board of Game. They will not be able to handle it before the end of the season. If you or the Commissioner do not perform this closure, it will not happen.
Denali Citizens Council