Denali Wolf Buffer Eliminated
The Board of Game voted 4-3 to eliminate an area closed to trapping wolves near Denali National Park and also enacted a six-year moratorium on proposals about the “buffer zone.”
The area in question was originally closed to wolf trapping in 2000 to protect wolves commonly seen within Denali National Park, with a sunset date of 2002. In 2002, the Board expanded the buffer zone to total 150 square miles outside Park boundaries, eliminated the sunset date and adopted a six-year moratorium to considering additional proposals.
Citing concerns about subsistence opportunity, member Al Barrette explained that the land in question has been identified as important for providing subsistence uses of wolves.
“It would be contrary to our subsistence law to continue the closed area,” Barrette said.
Member Ted Spraker argued to continue the existing closed area, stating that many people supported the idea over the years, and that he feared that removing it would lead to trappers being blamed if visitors to the park did not see wolves.
“The trappers would get a black eye, whether or not trapping affected people’s viewing opportunity,” Spraker said.
The Board of Game received 10 proposals pertaining to the closed area ranging from enlarging it to eliminating it. Those proposals received much of the public testimony before the Board last weekend.
The Department of Fish and Game made no recommendation on the proposal because it did not affect the wolf population as a whole and citing it as an “allocation issue” for which the Board has responsibility.
The Board of Game is meeting in Fairbanks to deliberate on proposals to change hunting regulations. The meeting is scheduled to adjourn on Sunday.