Target: Alaska Fish and Game Commissioner, Sam Cotten
Goal: Stop wolf hunting and trapping around Denali National Park.
Despite recovered populations of grey wolves thriving elsewhere in the United States and Canada, the wolves of Alaska’s Denali National Park face serious threats. Biologists estimate there are fewer than 50 wolves left in the park—the lowest number since density recordings began in 1986. Despite these worrying stats, Alaskan officials have refused pleas to halt wolf hunting and trapping in the area.
Concerns over repeated hunting seasons dwindling Denali packs caused the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to end this past spring’s wolf hunt prematurely in May. However, the department made the contentious decision to reopen the hunt in August and shows no plans for discontinuing the hunt in the future. With an average of seven wolves taken each season, it will not be long before wolves become extirpated from the area if this continues.
Denali National Park is frequented by outdoor enthusiasts and wildlife watchers, many of whom are hoping to catch a glimpse of the park’s majestic wild wolves. Visitor sightings of wolves in the park used to be commonplace, but have recently become much more rare. In the past, a buffer zone around Denali protected wolves from being killed once they strayed across invisible park limits. In 2010, however, in an effort to attract more hunters and their associated revenue to the area, the Alaska Board of Game eliminated this corridor of protection completely. By isolating the wolves in Denali and killing those who stray across park borders, hunters are further limiting genetic diversity and sealing the fate of this struggling population.
Hunting and trapping must cease immediately and indefinitely around Denali if the population is to stand a chance at recovery. Sign the petition below to urge the Alaska Fish and Game Commissioner to save the area’s few remaining wolves and protect the Denali corridor once more.
Dear Commissioner Cotten,
In recent years, visitors of Denali National Park have noticed a downturn in the frequency of wolf sightings. Catching a glimpse of a wild wolf, once a common occurrence in the area, is now a rare stroke of luck. This is unsurprising considering park biologists report the Denali wolf population has reached an all-time low of just 48 individuals. A population of this size is not sustainable and can not likely withstand more hunting seasons. Despite this, Alaskan officials allowed hunting to reopen around Denali in August, further endangering these few remaining wolves.
Before 2010, wolves enjoyed the protection of a buffer zone that extended through the Denali corridor around the park. This prevented wolves from being killed for crossing an invisible line to follow prey or move about their large ranges. The extra revenue generated from allowing hunters to pursue wolves in this area likely pales in comparison to the tourism dollars spent by outdoor enthusiasts at the park. Wildlife watchers often come to Denali just to see wolves, and each individual that roams the park is an extra incentive for visitors. Wolves are important to Alaska beyond just their intrinsic value and destroying them will cost more than it will save in the long run.
I urge you to listen to the pleas of biologists, the National Park Service, and visitors of Alaska’s parks and choose to protect Denali’s remaining wolves before it’s too late. If the population is to recover, hunting and trapping in the Denali corridor must be ceased and a new management plan must be developed for these vulnerable animals.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: MacNeil Lyons