Dragging Alaska’s Predator Management Policies Into The 21st Century

Voice Your Opposition to Alaska’s Shameful Predator Control Program.

UPDATE: The comment period has been extended 30 days. Please comment by April 7, 2016. Thankyou.

Generally the federal government allows the State of Alaska (and other states) to manage hunting and fishing on federal lands. But sometimes the State refuses to follow federal mandates even though Federal management authority always takes preference over state management directives. The USFWS is mandated to “protect natural diversity and abundance”.

Under Title VIII (Subsistence Management And Use) of the Alaska National Interests Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), Alaska Natives and other rural residents were granted hunting and fishing rights (when fish and game are not under outside threat) on National Preserves. The ANILCA did not, however, allow Alaska to manage its wildlife as it has been ~ which is not unlike a game farm, where wolves and bears are decimated to allow unchecked trophy hunting and commercial guiding, and led to the implementation of tighter restrictions by the National Park Service. Alaska is unique among the 50 states for allowing sport and subsistence hunting in the 17 million acres of national preserves added to the National Park System by the ANILCA.  While Congress recognized the “important value of  subsistence and (sadly, and in my opinion disgracefully) sport hunting”, it allowed both to take place only where consistent with the mandate to protect and conserve wildlife resources.

State sport hunting regulations passed by the Alaska Board of Game apply on public lands, but only when those regulations do not conflict with federal mandates or National Park policies. The Board, however, has noticeably become increasingly aggressive in its efforts to implement predator control on federal public lands through liberalization of sport hunting and trapping regulations. For example in 1994, the Alaska Legislature passed the Intensive Management Statute with which the explicit goal was to maintain, restore, or increase the abundance of big game  populations for human consumptive  use.
The following 2 maps illustrate the enormous expansion of state designated predator control areas (PCA) from 2001 to 2014. The maps also show that the boundaries of most national preserves had been encroached upon and many  had become virtually surrounded by  Predator Control Areas in just 14 years. Note the vast increase of “wolf control” areas (in yellow).



The Board has also practiced intensive  management by liberalizing sport hunting regulations, including:

*increasing bag limits from five per season up to 20 per season or 10 per day (as high as 20 a day for wolves in some areas of the state), and liberalizing hunting  seasons for predators to increase their “harvest”.
*eliminating the need for hunters to obtain or purchase hunting tags or permits for predators.
*permitting  the incidental taking of predators.
*authorizing same-day airborne hunting  and trapping, which allows hunters to take predators the same day they’ve  been flying.
*allowing the use of bait to lure predators.
*And, of course, the aerial gunning of wolves. Note that in 2011, the Board issued an emergency order to extend wolf hunting and trapping seasons in GMUs 9 and 10 to increase caribou numbers and as a way of getting around the U.S. Fish & Wildlife’s prohibition on aerial wolf control programs on Unimak  Island. Furthermore, the board has  repeatedly refused to reduce the impact of its programs on national preserves.  For example, in the spring  of 2014, the  radio-collared Lost Creek wolf pack left the borders of the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve and was eliminated  through aerial shooting by state agents implementing one of the Board’s intensive management plans. The Park Service had been studying the Lost Creek pack for seven years as part of a roughly 20-year study of wolves in the Yukon Charley National Preserve; The State  predator control efforts killed 36 wolves in the area in a single year, reducing the preserve’s population by over half. Another example is the Board’s 2010 elimination of the 122 square-mile buffer adjacent to Denali National Park that protected wolves crossing its boundaries from hunting and trapping~Two years later, the wolf populations in the Park were the lowest in decades.
The USFWS should prevent application of state regulations which are incompatible with management objectives for the nearly 77 million acres of wildlife refuges across the state. Period.
The National Park Service has also been at odds with the State which led to the implementation of tighter restrictions on sport hunting (the closure regulations became effective Nov. 23 2015, and new hunting regulations effective January 1 2016. More information regarding the NPS regulations can be found here.

In contrast to the goal of the Game Board, which is to ensure maximum sustained populations for hunting a proposed new rule from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would limit predator control in national wildlife refuges and is deserving of your support.

The draft rule, published in the Federal Register, aligns with a similar National Park Service rule that was finalized in October, banning abhorrent practices such as bear baiting, and the Game Boards’ liberal predator control “management” which could “disrupt natural processes and wildlife interactions” (In recent years, the Game Board has allowed harvesting of brown bears at black bear bait stations, taking wolves during denning season and has classified black bears as fur-bearers and big game species, “which could allow for trapping and snaring of bears and sale of their hides and skulls”).
The Proposed Rule “clarifies how existing mandates for the conservation of natural and biological diversity, biological integrity, and environmental health on refuges in Alaska relate to predator control; prohibits several particularly effective methods and means for take of predators”. This would formally establish a goal of biodiversity as the guiding principle of federal management of wildlife refuges (The Fish and Wildlife Service says the rule makes clear it would have no impact on subsistence hunters).

That, of course, stands in contrast to the goal of the Game Board, which is to alter or manipulate natural predator-prey dynamics to increase human harvest of ungulates.

Heather Tonneson, a regional refuge ecologist for the Fish and Wildlife Service, who was one of the rule’s primary authors, said the rule would “clarify existing legal mandates”. Tonneson also noted that the agency is “not done yet. It’s a proposed rule” and the agency wants to hear from the public and is open to changes.
I, myself, believe that their intent is to rein in Alaska, and make it clear to everyone that this sort of Intensive Management of predators is not going to be allowed.

Please show your support for this proposed new rule from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that would limit predator control in national wildlife refuges, it would help put an end to the suffering and death of many of our voiceless friends.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is taking public comment until March 7th, though, Alaska Gov. Bill Walker plans to ask the federal government to double the public comment period for the rule.

There will be nine public hearings. Comments can be submitted online through regulations.gov  using docket number FWS-R7-NWRS-2014-0005, or directly here.

Or by mail to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: [FWS-R7-NWRS-2014-0005]; Division of Policy, Performance, and Management Programs; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: BPHC; 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041.

Below, please find a sample comment, please personalize.  Note: Agencies review all submissions, however some agencies may choose to redact, or withhold, certain submissions (or portions thereof) such as those containing private or proprietary information, inappropriate language, or duplicate/near duplicate examples of a mass-mail campaign.

Sample comment:

It is my understanding that this proposal to amend regulations for National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska was developed in response to public concern about predator control and recent liberalization of predator “harvest” within the State of Alaska. Thankyou, and I welcome a policy encouraging the maintenance of more biological diversity on refuges, and an end to the horrific “predator control” found to be acceptable and encouraged by the State.

State regulations which have long authorized the hunting/trapping and other intensive management actions that involve predator reduction efforts with the intent or potential to alter or manipulate natural predator-prey dynamics and associated ecological processes (to increase human harvest of ungulates) is in conflict with the federal mandate, and abhorrent.

I appreciate the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services’ proposed rule which would clarify that predator control is not allowed on national wildlife refuges in Alaska, “unless necessary to meet refuge purposes, federal laws or Service policy, and is consistent with the agency’s conservation mission”, and appreciate your efforts here.

It is high time that Alaska stop treating our national preserves like game farms, and wholeheartedly support this proposal,

Your name

Thankyou, in advance, for your anticipated efforts on behalf of the wildlife on our National Preserves in Alaska.

USFWS News Release | Related content 

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24 thoughts on “Dragging Alaska’s Predator Management Policies Into The 21st Century

  1. Thanks for all that info. I sent a response. I’ve always thought Alaska lived in the dark ages. Maybe it is all that darkness in the winter months that makes people in that part of the woods a little bizarre. Aerial shooting of wolves is what Sarah Palin used to brag about. Totally sick woman and totally sick people. I hope the Feds put the clamps on all those wolf hunters, trappers and shoot-’em-from the sky sadists. BTW what is “bag limits?”

    1. Thankyou so very much for your support! I appreciate it very much. They (The Board of Game) certainly are in the dark ages when it comes to respecting wildlife and the balance of nature! Thankyou!

      1. Well all I could think of was a bunch of dead animals stuffed into a bag. Which I guess literally is their goal. Such lofty people we are talking about here. (Sorry I asked).

    2. My family immigrated from Norway to Alaska in 1904.We have always been politically,socially and environmentally active in our territory and then state .My father was a delegate to the state constitution and fought there for the abolition of fish traps.In those days democrats and republicans had healthy debate about what would best serve, long term, the people,wildlife and land as they framed our state constitution. It’s sad to hear people still think Sarah Palin is representative of our public here. Many,many Alaskans are following the environmental,wilderness and wildlife concerns here,in our nation and abroad.We are protesting with informed minds and strong spirit. Not really bizarre.as you stated.Now, on to my comment to the USFWS.. Thank you for caring for the wolves of S.E. all this support is appreciated by people like me.

      1. Sorry if I offended you personally. I did not mean to do that or to the people of Alaska who work on environmental issues. However, I do find Alaska “bizarre” mainly because of people like Sarah Palin and Ted Stevens and others who are elected representatives of your state. They have passed many laws that allow the annihilation of wolves. Take Arizona as an example of a state that has worked diligently to protect the Mexican grey wolf. When you contrast the 2 states Alaska is truly bizarre. The only state I know of that allows shooting wolves from airplanes. I often wonder if all that oil money that was paid out to the citizenry when the pipeline was built, helped whitewash all the environmental havoc that has taken place in your fine state. I have boycotted your state for years. Overall, I see Alaska as a red state that is politically populated with too many hard-core conservatives and tea party people. Until Alaska passes a progressive and environmentally sound wolf “management” policy I will continue to boycott your state and will not step foot in it (as a tourist or any other capacity.)

    3. It saddens me that politics runs a race in our wildlife. How many politicians have actually been in the wilderness and felt the peace that comes with it? How many of these blood thirsty ppl have actually held a wolf cub? Why can’t the government leave things alone? One day it will all be gone and we will only have ourselves to blame.

  2. It’s totally barbaric they kill just to kill , they are afraid that the wolfs will eat their children , they eat moose and bear , but they don’t eat the wolf so why kill them !! Backwards 200 years behind time … They still Believe in little Red Riding Hood , And the 3 little Pigs ! Sorry if you don’t post this but it’s true 40 some years my youngest sister married a Indian from Alaska and lives there still .. She and I talked about this very subject ! Soledad

  3. We talk of the Dark Heart of Africa, but really there is a Dark Heart beating in America, which beats ever faster with each magnificent wild animal slaughtered for the rush of adrenaline which apparently accompanies the act of murdering a majestic beast, especially a ‘dangerous’ majestic beast like a large predator. These people are slaughter-junkies and their addiction is playing out right across America and the world with disastrous consequences for wildlife. The tragedy is that they are often very wealthy and politically influential, so their bloodlust frequently transforms into state policy – cynically renamed ‘predator control’ or ‘wildlife management’.

  4. Killing is not conservation! It destroys their packs which are vital to them. They have just as much right to live as any human. Leave these animals alone.

  5. This is complete and utter bull cap what would you want us to do if you were a wolf Just kill you they are the ancesters of our damesticated dogs/K9s if they didn’t exist neither would our dogs they may attack someone yes but only if they’re cornered or sense tht you mean harm to them they keep the balance in nature if they are gone then the rabbits would over populate as well as the deer , squirrels, chipmunks, etc.

    Take one predator out of the nature circle and the whole thing goes haywire and the whole balance of nature has been thrown out the window. If you kill all the wolves you are killing a magnificent and beautiful animal

  6. I’m sorry to tell you that aerial wolf killing occurs in Idaho (as well as other permissive barbaric methods like trapping and hunting), not just Alaska. There is sadly a robust war on wildlife in the U.S. and around the world, fueled domestically by federal and state wildlife “management” agencies. It is deplorable, sickening, and heartbreaking. In addition, the state wildlife commissions that direct the “management” agencies are staffed with the preeminent serial killers of the state. It is a corrupt and filthy system, and it’s going to take a concerted and vigorous effort to achieve any reform. The power brokers won’t be giving it up without enormous and relentless public outcry. Whatever you do, let them know how you feel!

    1. I am very much aware of the aerial “culling” of wolves in Idaho, as well as Canada. Snaring, the other form of trapping, hounding and strychnine poisoning in Alberta… all horrific. I couldn’t agree more, these are frightening times for our wolves and wildlife. This particular effort would be an enormous step in the right direction for Alaska’s wolves, bears, and wildlife, please be sure to comment on the proposal; encourage your friends to do so as well. Thank-you, Pamela. It is a corrupt system, made more difficult with plenty of anti-wildlife legislation introduced over the past year or so. Almost seems hopeless however, since the human race is growing exponentially, spreading into every corner of the globe. This leaves pretty much every other species in retreat and decline. Obviously as our population explodes, other species very existence is threatened, hence, this Anthropocene we are experiencing now. It a grotesque piece of arrogance on our part as a species that we think that we have a right to destroy everything else, upset natural balances, consume nearly every species on earth (killing carnivores because they need to eat). The only predator which needs to be kept in check is the one which walks upright. Thanks for the comment and your support. 

      1. The species that shoots guns, traps, snares and hunts for a “sport” definitely needs to be kept in check. The way our presidential elections are going I have more and more fear that Mother Nature as a whole is going to continue to get really f***ed.

    2. Hear! Hear! I think that Alaska was the first state to do aerial killing of wolves. Then others jumped on the bandwagon. The whole “sport” is indeed corrupt and filthy.

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