Wolf Hunting Resumes Near Denali National Park
Conservationists call for buffer zone
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On Monday, state lands near Denali National Park and Preserve reopened to wolf hunting, according to Alaska Dispatch News. In mid-May, Sam Cotten, commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, issued an emergency order that closed the corridor northeast of the park to wolf hunting two weeks before the season ended.
Hunting regulations changed in 2013 to allow brown bear hunting at bait stations, wildlife conservation director Bruce Dale told Outside. The change led to more hunters in the area. The wolf hunting season ended early to allow the Alaska Board of Game to consider the possibility that those new bear hunters were also hunting wolves, increasing the number taken during the spring.
Now that bear hunting season has ended, the area has reopened for wolf hunting.
In 2010, the Board of Game removed a buffer zone around the corridor that prohibited wolf hunting and trapping. Since then, the estimated wolf population in the park has dropped to 48, the lowest spring count on record.
Although the population decline has been attributed to a number of factors—including high mortality rates for pups and low snowfall, making prey harder to catch—conservationists have called for the reestablishment of the wolf buffer zone.
However, the issue cannot be revisited until 2017, due to a moratorium placed by the Board of Game. On Friday, the Alaska Wildlife Alliance and Denali Citizens Council submitted a formal request to the Board of Game to address the issue at the March 2016 meeting, but the request was denied by a six-to-one vote.