House passes bill banning wolf harvest in northeast Denali Park

Denali wolf
(Photo by Kent Miller, Denali National Park)

The Alaska House has passed a bill banning wolf harvest on a section of state land bordering Denali National Park.

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HB 105 prohibits wolf hunting and trapping on the park’s northeastern edge, where a few Denali wolves are harvested each year. The Alaska Board of Game has refused to reinstate a no-wolf kill area, since scrapping a previous buffer zone in 2010. Bill sponsor Representative Andy Josephson of Anchorage told lawmakers before a floor vote Wednesday, the lack of protection has corresponded with a decline in Denali wolf viewing.

”It used to be, around 2010 and before, you had a 50 percent chance, nearly, of seeing a wolf, and that number has fallen to 6 percent,” Josephson said.

Some other lawmakers said the small harvest along the park’s northeastern edge is just one factor in a broader decline of Denali National Park wolves. District 9 Representative George Rauscher pointed to another issue.

”One thing about wolves is we know they follow a food source,” Rauscher said. “And when a food source is gone, they don’t necessarily stay in that area because of legislation.”

HB 105 narrowly passed the house 22 to 18 Wednesday before the regular legislative session ended. It’s fate in the Senate is uncertain.

Legislators are in Juneau for a special session called by Governor Walker to address state spending and revenue measures.