Quiet Extinction — Alexander Archipelago Wolf Tweetstorm

Monday, November 2, 2020

While U.S. citizens are distracted by the polarized political climate with increasing negative tones amidst a global pandemic, a small dark wolf quietly struggles for the survival of its species. The hunt for the Alexander Archipelago wolves that call Prince of Wales Island, Alaska home began just 2 days ago.

As we are very short on time we will be providing just a short overview regarding the plight of the wolves on Prince of Wales and adjacent islands in Alaska in what is called Game Management Unit 2 (GMU2). For a timeline of events please follow this link. The situation is dire at this point in time as the U S. Forest Service in cooperation with the Alaska Board of Game recently made drastic changes to the hunting and trapping regulations prior to the 2019-2020 season resulting in the demise of a record number of wolves (165 from what was thought to be just 170 individuals).

The survey results for 2019 (prior to the hunting/trapping seasons) was delayed due to the global pandemic, and just recently announced. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s estimate of the wolf population survey, prior to last year’s season, 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.

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% take 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.

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 would not open. Trappers will be limited from Nov. 15 to Nov. 30 under both state and federal seasons.

And it looks like there will be no limit: a 30 day open season for hunters, and a 15 day open season for trappers.

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.

It is important to note that back in 1993—back when ADF&G actually had at least several employees that were genuinely concerned about wildlife, including wolves —a minimum viable population of wolves on POW was 250-300 individuals (post-denning).

Please speak out, these are your public lands and the rare archipelago wolves are being killed in your nation’s forests. From a genetic perspective this scheme is a disaster in the making that will only get worse with ongoing logging in the Tongassas black-tailed deer lose critical habitat, their numbers decline; with fewer deer to hunt, the wolves are blamedpoaching of wolves increases.

Over 300,000 acres have already been logged on Prince of Wales and adjacent Islands The deer are strongly influenced by the loss and fragmentation of old-growth forest habitat. Add to this already desperate situation the rolling back of the Roadless Rule further opens more area on Prince of Wales and adjacent islands to the extraction industry and with it, roadbuilding, as shown below.

More than 300,000 acres — about 94% of the island’s productive old growth — has been logged, turning centuries-old trees into everything from pulp to pianos.

With well over 3,000 miles of logging roads in the area, as well as habitat destruction from decades of logging, wolf poaching is rife and nearly impossible to curb. Again, we are well on our way to seeing the imminent extirpation and possible extinction of this unique wolf, a repeat of the nightmare in 2015. Add to that, a species status assessment for the Alexander Archipelago wolf is outdated; in 2015, the U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service broadly estimated the total number of animals at 850 to 2,700. And yes, that would be what remains of Canis lupus ligoni on the entire planet with approximately 62 percent (2015) living in British Columbia where they are heavily persecuted as the government allows almost unfettered hunting of the animal. Just 38 percent (2015) were known to occupy southeastern Alaska.

On July 15th, 2020, conservation groups asked the federal government to provide Endangered Species Act protections for Southeast Alaska’s Alexander Archipelago wolves as a Distinct Population Segment, and is the main topic in this tweetstorm.


Please send off the following automated tweets by tapping our tweet bird found at the end of each tweet. Be sure that your Twitter window is closed prior to tweeting in order to be brought back to this tweet sheet after each tweet. If you do not have a Twitter account you can still participate if you are on Facebook by copying the tweets and posting them on targeted agencies pages (links for those can be found at the bottom if this page). Thank you for participating. Also important, when tweets were within limits, images have already been added though not shown in tweet text.

1. The 2020-2021 hunting/trapping season for #AlexanderArchipelagoWolves on POW is not #sustainable and is in violation of Article VIII, Section 4 of the Constitution of the State of Alaska @adfg_seak

2. .@AkForestService must implement its Wolf Habitat Management Program as mandated by the Tongass Forest Plan, setting forth a number of actions for the @forestservice to take to ensure the sustainability of #AlexanderArchipelagoWolves

3. Prior to the abandonment of the quota system last season, previous quotas generally allowed a maximum reported take of 20% of #AlexanderArchipelagoWolves, less than 20% when the pre-season population estimate was low @AkForestService 1/

4. 2/ The Fall 2019 estimate of #AlexanderArchipelagoWolves would thus need to be 825 wolves for the 165 known killed to fall within the maximum quota that has been considered sustainable @AkForestService

5. 3/ Therefore it is safe to say that GMU 2 #AlexanderArchipelagoWolves suffered an extreme level of mortality from trapping last season, from both, the percentage (50), and a sheer numeric standpoint compared to historic statistics @AkForestService Cancel the seasons!

6. The reported fall 2019 harvest of 165 #AlexanderArchipelagoWolves from an estimated 316 wolves puts the population at the bare minimum of the “sustainable population objective range” of 150-200. Close the season @AkForestService @adfg_seak

7. Alaska’s elimination of trapping/hunting limits and in-season mortality monitoring for this vulnerable population of #AlexanderArchipelagoWolves served to decimate their population by over 50% @USFWS Grant #ESA protections

8. Alaska’s failure to follow the recommendations of its own Wolf Habitat Management Program served to decimate the population of #AlexanderArchipelagoWolves @USFWS @SecBernhardt

9. Illegal unreported take may account for as much as half of total trapping/hunting mortality. Protect #AlexanderArchipelagoWolves under the #ESA @USFWS @SecBernhardt

10. .@USFWS @SecBernhardt Adding to an already precarious situation, during the 2019-2020 trapping season, an unprecedented number of wolves were killed on POW, totaling 165 #AlexanderArchipelagoWolves

11. New genetic evidence indicates that #AlexanderArchipelagoWolves on POW are experiencing high levels
of inbreeding @SecBernhardt @USFWS Grant #EndangeredSpeciesAct protections

12. New genetic evidence indicates that #AlexanderArchipelagoWolves on POW are at risk of inbreeding depression due to population declines caused by habitat loss and high trapping/hunting mortality @SecBernhardt @USFWS

13. Adding loss of genetic diversity to the relative isolation of #AlexanderArchipelagoWolves spells doom for the wolves @SecBernhardt @USFWS Protect under the #ESA

14. #AlexanderArchipelagoWolves on the islands of GMUs 3 and 1A also show evidence of inbreeding, making them also vulnerable to loss of genetic diversity @SecBernhardt @USFWS

15. #AlexanderArchipelagoWolves in Southeast Alaska should be recognized as a Distinct Population Segment and be evaluated as such for protection under the #EndangeredSpeciesAct @interior @USFWS

16. Over the past 15 years, the POW wolf population has suffered an alarming decline of over 60% due to escalating threats from habitat destruction and mortality from trapping/hunting. Protect this DPS under the #ESA @USFWS @USFWSAlaska

17. Significant new information since the 2016 Finding demonstrates that #AlexanderArchipelagoWolves in SEAlaska face immediate, high-magnitude threats from habitat destruction/degradation resulting from past/ongoing intensive logging and road construction @USFWS @SecBernhardt

18. Significant new information since the 2016 Finding demonstrates that #AlexanderArchipelagoWolves in SEAlaska face immediate, high-magnitude threats from trapping and hunting mortality @USFWS @SecBernhardt

19. Significant new information since the 2016 Finding demonstrates that #AlexanderArchipelagoWolves in SEAlaska face immediate, high-magnitude threats from the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms, inbreeding depression, and anthropogenic #climatechange @USFWS

20. Significant new information since the 2016 Finding demonstrates that #AlexanderArchipelagoWolves in SEAlaska face immediate, high-magnitude threats from the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms, inbreeding depression, and anthropogenic #climatechange @SecBernhardt

21. New threats include the 2016 Tongass Land and Resource Management Plan which authorizes intensive ongoing old-growth and second-growth logging and road-building concentrated in essential wolf habitat. Protect #AlexanderArchipelagoWolves under the #ESA @USFWS

22. Ongoing intensive clear-cut logging of wolf habitat on state/private lands; massive timber sales with high levels of old-growth logging/road-building authorized under the Forest Plan concentrated in prime wolf habitat threaten the survival of #AlexanderArchipelagoWolves @USFWS

23. The 2016 Tongass Forest Plan authorizes intensive clear-cut logging of the wolf’s remaining old-growth forest habitat until at least 2031, as well as intensive road-building and second-growth logging threatening the survival of #AlexanderArchipelagoWolves @USFWS

24. Ongoing logging/road-building under the Plan will be concentrated in essential remaining wolf habitat on POW and other wolf islands in GMUs 2, 3, and 1A which have already suffered disproportionate losses of old-growth forest @USFWS

25. The rollback of the Roadless
Rule opens 165,000 acres of previously protected old-growth forest to logging/roadbuilding, further jeopardizing #AlexanderArchipelagoWolves and their prey, through massive habitat
fragmentation, destruction, and disturbance @USFWS

26. High levels of mortality from legal and illegal trapping/hunting also pose as a primary threat to the #AlexanderArchipelagoWolves @forestservice @SecBernhardt @adfg_seak @AKForestService Protect under #ESA @USFWS

27. On POW, trapping and hunting is contributing to the observed
large-scale population decline of #AlexanderArchipelagoWolves, protect under the #EndangeredSpeciesAct @USFWS @SecBernhardt

28. The best-available science clearly demonstrates that the #AlexanderArchipelagoWolves in SE Alaska are threatened or endangered, and in immediate need of the protections of the #EndangeredSpeciesAct @SecBernhardt @USFWS

29. The best-available science clearly demonstrates that the #AlexanderArchipelagoWolves in SE Alaska are threatened or endangered, and in immediate need of the protections of the #EndangeredSpeciesAct Cancel the seasons @adfg_seak @forestservice @AKForestService

Thank you for lending your voice for #AlexanderArchipelagoWolves

Facebook links:

USFWS Facebook

U.S. Forest Service Facebook

Alaska Department of Fish and Game Southeast Facebook

Alaska Department of Fish and Game Facebook

U.S. Department of Interior (Secretary Bernhardt) Facebook

Stay tuned, we will provide updates as they become available.
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