Alaska conservationists urge officials to halt wolf hunting


JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska conservationists are urging state and federal officials not to reopen wolf hunting season around Prince of Wales Island.

They are imploring officials to do so in order to allow the population of wolves to recover from last season’s record harvest, CoastAlaska reported.

Much of the island is part of the Tongass National Forest, which makes state and federal governments in charge of managing hunting and trapping.

The U.S. Forest Service had postponed the federal subsistence wolf season until Oct. 31. The state’s hunting season for wolves is scheduled to open two weeks afterward.

State and federal managers eliminated the harvest limit in 2019, which has resulted in a record 165 wolves hunted or trapped since then, said Patrick Lavin of Defenders of Wildlife in Anchorage.

“That level of trapping — direct mortality — is on top of other challenges for these wolves, especially from extensive habitat loss from clear cutting and road building in the past,” Lavin said. “So, it’s a population kind of struggling to survive that got especially hard hit last year because of that change in policy.”

A 2018 estimate said wolves native to the surrounding archipelago have a population of about 170, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

State Fish and Game Commissioner Doug Vincent-Lang has said if the population falls below 100, hunting and trapping season would close.

Environmentalists have petitioned the federal government to list subspecies of wolves as threatened. That request is still pending with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.