Alexander Archipelago Wolves on Prince of Wales 2020-2021 Season Update

October 29, 2020, updated November 9, 2020, and again January 21, 2021:

Alaska wildlife officials have reported that 68 wolves were taken by trappers during the recent shortened 21 day season, that opened on November 15 2020, on or near Prince of Wales Island.

A reported kill of 68 wolves from an already decimated population of rare Alexander Archipelago wolves spells doom when considering that poaching levels can be substantial, and, from a genetic perspective, when considering the isolation of the animals. Last fall’s population estimate of 316 wolves within GMU2 was taken prior to the 165 wolves killed during the horrific 2019 season. This means that after this most recent season’s take of 68 animals just approximately under 100 remain.

Wolves in Southeast Alaska desperately need the protections of the Endangered Species Act before they disappear, and become another statistic in the wildlife extinction crisis.

Meanwhile, Tom Schumacher is confident the island’s Alexander Archipelago wolf population is “healthy,” and is “pretty confident” that “we’ll have a fall population right within our population objective range of 150 to 200 wolves.”

For more in-depth information regarding the plight of this unique wolf please follow this link. For all of our posts regarding Alexander Archipelago wolves tap here.

The Alexander Archipelago wolf exists in small numbers in a rapidly changing insular environment. Projected growth in human population, increasing road access, and the continuing loss and fragmentation of high-quality deer habitat will increase the risk of not maintaining a viable, well-distributed population of wolves in southeast Alaska. The area of most immediate concern is game management unit 2 (including Prince of Wales and Kosciusko Islands).

“Wolf populations on Prince of Wales and adjacent islands will face two significant problems: declining abundance of deer and increasing risk of intensive and unsustainable hunting and trapping mortality.”

November 9, 2020 update:

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s estimate of the wolf population survey last year is 316. This number does not factor in the 165 wolves reported taken last winter — more than half the island’s population estimate.
Please note: throughout this page the word “harvest” is used. Harvest is a hideous attempt at legitimizing the slaughter of wildlife, and we find it abhorrent. Nonetheless it is taken verbatim from various reports and press releases.

Under the latest proposal, rural residents eligible for federal subsistence will be able to hunt wolves from Oct. 31 until the end of November. The state’s hunt for non-rural residents originally was not going to open, however, the state has recently agreed to open a 5 day hunting period (5 wolf bag limit). This is in addition to the federal hunt. Trappers were going to be limited from Nov. 15 to Nov. 30 under both state and federal seasons, however, on November 6th, state and federal authorities announced they would extend the trapping season by five days for a full three-week “opportunity,” therefore the trapping season now ends on December 5th.

And it looks like there will be no limit (federal subsistence): a 30 day open season for hunters, and a now 3 week season for trappers. Add to that the recently added state hunt of five days, but with a limit of five wolves.

The goal of this nightmare is a harvest that will maintain the wolf population within a sustainable fall population objective range of 150-200 wolves as established by the Alaska Board of Game and the Forest Service.

The reported fall 2019 harvest of 165 wolves from a population estimated at 316 wolves results in a harvest rate of just about 50% (The agency considers a 30% harvest to be the “maximum sustainable harvest rate for a productive wolf population”).

If these numbers are indeed accurate, (and though the survey was taken prior to pup season, it also does not account for wolves killed illegally, often a substantial number, nor wolves killed in vehicle collisions, nor animals that died from illnesses) this would mean that presently there are approximately 151 rare Alexander Archipelago wolves left on Prince of Wales and adjacent islands, meaning that the slaughter of just several wolves will bring the population level to below a “sustainable objective population range,” which means that as far as the eye can see, the hunting and trapping seasons should remain closed.

A lawsuit filed Monday, October 26th, 2020, asked a state judge to intervene, asking the court to block the state trapping season from reopening in mid-November. It was filed on behalf of the Anchorage-based Alaska Wildlife Alliance and Joel Bennett, a former member of the Board of Game who lives in Juneau. Unfortunately, on November 9, 2020 Juneau Superior Court Judge Daniel Schally rejected filings for an injunction that would block the now three-week trapping season that opens on November 15.

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