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State Game Board Refuses Petition to Create Denali-Area Wolf Buffer Zone

The Alaska Board of Game has turned down an emergency petition to re-establish a buffer zone to protect Denali National Park area wolves. Meeting today (Fri) in Anchorage, the board voted unanimously to reject the petition from the Alaska Wildlife Alliance, the National Parks Conservation Association, Denali Citizens Council and several individuals, to create a no kill zone on state lands along the northeastern edge of the Park near Healy. The Park wolf population has declined by 2 thirds since the Game Board eliminated a previous buffer in 2010, but harvest has been relatively low.

Board member Stosh Hoffman of Bethel pointed to natural factors, like low prey numbers, likely also involved in the Denali wolves decline. “The Department has pointed out that there is no conservation concern and I agree with that. Wolf populations fluctuate like all other populations and I don’t see and emergency concern at this point.”

Some board members, who were not on the board when the original Denali wolf buffer was scrapped, expressed regret that it was ever eliminated, but agreed that the current situation is not an emergency. In 2010, the Game Board self imposed a 6 year moratorium on consideration of Denali wolf buffer proposals. That’s relegated wolf advocates to pursing protection through emergency petitions, all of which have been turned down. Denali Citizens Council board member Nancy Bale says her group decided to sign on to the latest petition because the next Game Board meeting on interior issues is not until 2017, year after the moratorium is scheduled to end.  ###     

Dan has been in public radio news in Alaska since 1993. He’s worked as a reporter, newscaster and talk show host at stations in McGrath, Valdez and Fairbanks. Dan’s experience includes coverage of a wide range of topics, from wolf control to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and dog mushing.