We urge our members to support this Agenda Change Request also (see below for how)
Recent declines in the population of wolves who den and raise pups inside Denali National Park, and are often seen in the park, have caused concern in the local community, increased the support for buffers throughout the state and NPS itself, and have fueled controversy on how this can be achieved.
In 2010, the National Park Service introduced a proposal at the Alaska Board of Game Interior Region meeting in Fairbanks that would retain existing closed areas and add lands in the Wolf Townships, based on data showing that wolves often range into these specific lands and have specific vulnerability there.
Unfortunately the Board of Game, at that time, allowed all wolf buffers to sunset and placed a moratorium on discussion of this topic until 2016. During the interim, as wolf numbers and viewability have continued to decline, emergency petitions and requests for closures have been the only tools available. Recently, when in 2015 three wolves from Denali’s East Fork Pack suffered losses through hunting and trapping activities, the Commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game issued an Emergency Order closing the last two weeks of hunting season.
Because the moratorium on discussion wolf hunting/trapping buffers will expire in 2016, we consider it imperative to file a Board of Game proposal in 2016. However, recent changes in Board of Game process have bumped the 2016 Interior Region meeting to 2017, making it almost two years before this critical issue can be addressed in a normal Board of Game process.
Our Response: An Agenda Change Request
The response of the Denali Citizens Council and the Alaska Wildlife Alliance has been to make every effort to get a buffer proposal onto the Board of Game’s March 2016 meeting schedule. Because the March 2016 meeting is not specific to the Interior Region (Region III), we can only introduce a proposal onto the agenda by using an Agenda Change Request, which we filed in late June. This ACR will be considered by the Board of Game in a special teleconference on August 7, 2015. You may view the ACR at the link
ACR for No wolf-take proposal 2016. To view the agenda for the entire meeting, click here.
We urge you to send comments supporting this ACR (#7). Due July 30, 5 pm
Go to the Board of Game website at http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=gameboard.main. Click the button in the middle of this page to submit comments. You will be commenting on ACR #7 for the August 7th Board Teleconference. You may fax comments to 907-459-6094.
Note that ADF&G is asking that comments be confined to reasons why the Agenda Change should be accepted. Unfortunately the reasons are narrowly construed – a conservation concern, a change in regulations or an error in regulations.
Ideas for your comments:
Grant ACR #7 (Denali Wolf buffer zone) for the following reasons –
- Public policy: The moratorium on consideration of wolf buffers from 2010 to 2016 was not good public policy. Adding another year onto this moratorium, in a climate of intense public interest, disrespects public discourse.
(A large number of Alaskans are concerned about the Board of Game’s avoidance of an issue that is important to them. Many of these Alaskans submitted comments on the recent Emergency Petition and the requests for Emergency Closure in May. It was truly an unforeseen change when the Board delayed an expected 2016 interior region meeting where, for the first time in five years, a buffer proposal could be heard.)
- Public policy: A viewability study specifically requested by the Board of Game has recently been completed. The Board of Game should hear the results of this study as soon as possible, since it was the Board of Game that asked for the study.
- Conservation: The overall population health of wolves in GMU 20 does not mean that a subunit-level conservation issue does not exist. We do not understand the Department’s insistence on a region-wide interpretation of population health here. The data from GMU 20C are not indicative of wolf population health.
- Impact of hunting/trapping: The fact that habitat and prey may be limiting numbers of wolves in 20C to densities near the lower management limit argues for considering stressors that can be controlled, such as hunting and trapping.
- Impact of hunting/trapping: Although, from the numbers standpoint, human harvest of wolves in areas northeast of Denali National Park is low, the loss of just one wolf can disrupt the pack, if breeders are taken. This has been shown in a recent study. Since hunting season moves through the entire breeding season and into the denning season, breeders can be and have been taken.