State, feds pursuing better coordination after wolf kill in national preserve

This photo was published in an ADFG pamphlet "Understanding Intensive Predator Management in Alaska," part of the Department's efforts in 2012 to educate the public about practices that have been controversial, especially to observers outside Alaska. (Credit Steve Dubois/ADF&G)
This photo was published in an ADFG pamphlet “Understanding Intensive Predator Management in Alaska,” part of the Department’s efforts in 2012 to educate the public about practices that have been controversial, especially to observers outside Alaska. (Credit Steve Dubois/ADF&G)

State wolf control in the vicinity of Yukon Charley Rivers National Preserve has prompted agencies to pursue better cooperation. A wolf was killed by the state inside the Preserve earlier this month.

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The wolf kill was the result of a state predator control effort northeast of Delta Junction. Alaska Department of Fish and Game Regional Supervisor Darren Bruning says a wolf initially targeted March 9th on state land, from a helicopter, ran into the nearby Yukon Charley Rivers National Preserve.

“A wolf was shot and mortally wounded outside the preserve, within the authorized control area, and Fish and Game personnel followed the wolf in order to humanely dispatch it,” Bruning said.

The incident, follows others in past years in which Yukon Charley based wolves have been shot by the state outside the preserve. NPS spokesman John Quinley attributes the ongoing situation to conflicting state and federal predator management policies.

“They are doing what the legislature and the governor has asked them to do, and we are asking them to pay some attention to what Congress has asked us to do in terms of managing more natural populations of wolves” Quinley said. And on that border, those two management directives bump into each other and it’s not always easy.”

Quinley says the wolf shot earlier this month was not radio collared or otherwise identifiable as a park animal, adding that the state is within its authority to kill wolves, but that the NPS would like it to avoid Preserve-based animals.

“In the past we have shared information about packs of wolves that spend most of their time in the preserve,” Quinley said. “I don’t know if there’s willingness to avoid some of those wolves or not. There has not been in the past, but that would still be something that we would be interested in.”

Quinley says NPS and state wildlife officials plan to meet on the issue. The state’s Bruning confirms that, adding there’s potential for better cooperation.

“Coordinate our operations and to share information about our operations and to review our protocol in order to minimize the chances for something like this happening again,” Bruning said.

The state of Alaska credits the wolf control begun in the area in 2006 with helping drive 2 to 4 percent annual growth of the Fortymile caribou herd.