Alaska Alert: Denali National Park Wolves Need Your Voice!
September 15, 2012
News broke regarding the snaring/killing of a breeding female wolf from Alaska’s Grant Creek pack – the most often viewed wolf pack in Denali National Park. It happened on state lands just outside the park boundary in April 2012.
[LA Times covered it: http://articles.latimes.com/2012/may/22/nation/la-na-nn-wolves-trapper-20120522]
GRANT CREEK WOLVES:
Recently, the Alaska Wildlife Alliance and others filed a petition that requested the Alaska Board of Game meet to establish an Emergency Regulation closing state lands in a subdivision of Game Management Unit 20 along the eastern boundary of Denali National Park to the hunting/trapping of wolves. Twenty to thirty animals that comprise the three most viewed wolf packs in Denali National Park are, indeed, at significant risk from hunting on state lands adjacent to this national park in this area.
Sadly, the snaring of this one female wolf on state lands just outside the park puts the Grant Creek pack in extreme jeopardy. No pups were born to the pack this year, the pack has dispersed south of the Alaska Range, its social connectedness as a pack has declined, and its long term survival is unknown at this time.
Further, this incident and its impact on Denali National Park received national media attention, resulting in significant damage to the State of Alaska’s reputation in terms of its commitment to sustainable wildlife management and to its reputation as a wildlife tourism destination.
Representatives of Wolfwatcher called Alaska Board of Game Commissioner Campbell to discuss this matter; we were referred to Asst. Direct Doug Vincent-Lang of the Wildlife Division. During our conversations, we urged the Board of Game to honor the petition by calling a meeting of the Board of Game to discuss the potential negative impact on the wolves in this area, to the valuable tourism opportunities they afford to visitors who travel to Denali National Park, and to the gateway communities in and around the Denali National Park that thrive on our tourism dollars.
We learned the Board has two criteria from which they determine the “emergency” nature for a requested meeting: a biological emergency and some unforeseen event that requires their attention. Vincent-Lang said it was his opinion that the situation as stated in the petition did not meet the criteria – however, he cautioned us that the Board could determine otherwise. He told us that the Board’s next scheduled meeting takes place in 2014 – and by then, the Grant Creek Pack could be lost forever.
NOW WE NEED YOUR HELP!
We must convince Alaska Governor Parnell and Lt. Governor Treadwell that significant damage has been done to the reputation to the State of Alaska in terms of its commitment to sustainable wildlife management and to Alaska’s reputation as a wildlife tourism destination.
• TEL – (907) 465-3500
• FAX – (907) 465-3532
• EMAIL – firstname.lastname@example.org
Lt. Governor Treadwell:
• TEL – (907) 465-3520;
• FAX – (907) 465-5400
• EMAIL – Ltgov@alaska.gov
TELL THEM – I want the Board of Game to meet on an emergency basis to review and rule on the petition filed by Alaska Wildlife Alliance and others which urges them to adopt an Emergency Regulation that closes state lands to the hunting of wolves along the eastern boundary of Denali National Park (GMU 20).
INCLUDE ONE OR MORE TALKING POINTS:
- Because wolves that frequent Denali National Park’s road are accustomed to a benign presence of humans, they are particularly vulnerable to hunters. Hunting of wolves, particularly breeding wolves, has the potential to decrease wolf numbers, alter wolf behavior, and decrease opportunities for wolf viewing by park visitors. This can have significant, multi-year effects on visitor experiences. This is precisely what happened from the killing of the Grant Creek female this past spring, and will continue unless the area is closed by the emergency order requested.
- Visitor viewing of wolves in Denali National Park was significantly decreased in the summer 2012 compared to previous years, due to the loss of the Grant Creek pack’s alpha female on state lands just outside the park boundary. This reduced visitor experience may result in direct economic loss to Alaska in future years.
- Additional hunting/killing of wolves on state lands along the park boundary could cause similar, or even more severe, negative impacts to this valuable wildlife and economic resource.
- More than anywhere else in Alaska, wolves in the eastern part of Denali provide significant benefits to tourism. Denali visitors contribute millions of dollars each year to the state economy. Wolf viewing opportunities are mostly provided by three packs of wolves that live near the park road – Grant Creek, Nenana Canyon, and East Fork packs. The most recent wolf survey results in Denali National Park (Spring 2012) estimate a total population of 70 animals, in 9 packs – one of the lowest counts in the past 20 years. Denali National Park biologists report that prey populations are generally healthy in the park. Thus, the low wolf population is likely not caused by lack of prey. The continued hunting of park wolves outside the park — particularly of breeding females, such as the Grant Creek female this past spring – may contribute to the reduced wolf population in the park.
- Snaring/trapping of wolves on state lands bordering the park is seen by large numbers of visitors to the park. Such sightings by visitors have a detrimental effect on public opinion of trapping and Alaska wildlife management, in general. The cost to Alaska’s reputation as a visitor destination is not worth the negative press generated when Denali Park wolves are trapped beyond park boundaries