Predator control program has different priorities
ANCHORAGE – The National Park Service wants the state to rethink its policy when it comes to killing collared wolves. The issue came to a head last week when Alaska Fish and Game killed an 11-member wolf pack just outside the boundaries of the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve.
One thing all the parties agree on is that the wolves were taken legally by the state as part of its aerial predator control program. But the Park Service points out that the wolves were part of a long-term research program that’s been going on for more than a decade.
The animals are safe from aerial hunters inside the preserve, but once they cross the boundaries onto state land it’s a different set of rules.
“The wolves spend time in the preserve and outside, so they are subjected to two different management systems,” said John Quinley, a National Park Service spokesman. “And sometimes those have a difficulty coexisting.”
The Park Service wants the state to back off shooting animals from the air that are clearly collared, but the Fish and Game said that would not be in the state’s best interest.
“We have explored those things in the past, made a try at it for a year or two, but the conclusion was that it did compromise the state’s efforts,” said Fish and Game’s area supervisor David James.
James said the state’s priority is to target wolves that threaten the 40-Mile caribou herd, with a goal to grow the herd for sports hunters.
He said that program seems to be working and as long as it is, there are no plans for the state to change its policies on wolves.