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Imminent Hunting Season Threatens Denali Wolves

Wolves are always elusive, but results from a new survey in Denali National Park show that sightings have become significantly rarer in recent years, even close to nonexistent.

Denali tour bus drivers who conducted the survey between April and July saw wolves just fifteen times over the seventy-five day period.

Wolves in Alaska are not protected under state or federal law. Thus, despite the fact that hunting and trapping are illegal within Denali, wandering wolves are often vulnerable as soon as they slip across the park’s boundary.

Prior to 2010, an area most frequented by wolves adjacent to park was closed to hunting by the State of Alaska. This buffer zone protected two of the park’s three most-commonly viewed wolf packs. Although the National Park Service made a bid to expand the buffer zone in 2010, the Alaska Board of Game denied the request and voted to eliminate the zone entirely – a bid perceived to attract more hunters and their potential revenue.

Park biologists say Alaska’s resumption of hunting and trapping adjacent to the park is part to blame for the population decline and less frequent sightings. Thus, sixty individuals and organizations in Alaska are calling for an emergency closure of hunting and trapping on state lands along Denali’s northeastern boundary

Wolf hunting reopens in the area in two days on August 10; trapping resumes in November.