Local News

Board of Game advances wolf trapping proposals

Richard Lowell, the area wildlife biologist for the Petersburg office of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, addresses the Board of Game during its meeting in Sitka on Monday, Jan. 14. (Photo by Ed Ronco/KCAW)

The Alaska Board of Game advanced a pair of reports that call for trapping wolves in Southeast Alaska, in an attempt to help deer populations recover. The move came during the board’s meeting in Sitka on Sunday and Monday.

Two feasibility studies look at wolf management in what the state refers to as Unit 1A and Unit 3.

Unit 1A surrounds Ketchikan, Metlakatla, Hyder and more. The plan there is to eliminate wolves from Gravina Island. It’s estimated to cost about $350,000 over five years.

In Unit 3, the study proposes trapping on the Lindenberg Peninsula near Petersburg, as well as nearby Woewodski and Mitkof islands. The goal there would be to remove about 80 percent of the wolves, rather than all.

Read a PDF of the plan for Unit 1A (near Ketchikan).
Read a PDF of the plan for Unit 3 (near Petersburg).

But a consortium of environmental organizations blasted both plans. The Greater Southeast Alaska Conservation Community, Greenpeace, the Alaska Wildlife Alliance and others wrote joint letters opposing both plans.

They argue that it’s unknown how much the deer population might recover if the wolves are eliminated. They blame the low deer population on Gravina Island on poor winter habitat, not wolves, and say there are flaws with the Department of Fish & Game’s assessments.

Similar arguments are made against the proposal near Petersburg. The groups say the study is based on flawed harvest objectives and that habitat is the problem. They urge the state to resist further loss of habitat due to logging.

The acceptance of both studies by the Board of Game is far from the last step. Board Chairman Ted Spraker said the board’s action does not mean it’s adopted the plan.

Department of Fish and Game staff are expected to bring back a more refined proposal at the Board of Game’s next meeting.

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