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Interior Wolf Control Program to End

posted Sep 4, 2017, 9:27 PM by chloe owens

7/5/17, by Dan Bross, Alaska Public Media

Interior wolf control program to end

The state plans to suspend its largest wolf control program. The Upper Yukon Tanana area program, which has targeted wolves in an area of the eastern interior since 2004, is scheduled to cease after the 2017-2018 season. The State’s long running Upper Yukon Tanana wolf control effort is aimed at increasing Forty Mile caribou numbers for hunters by reducing the number of wolves on the caribou herd’s calving grounds, but Alaska Department of Fish and Game regional supervisor Darren Bruning said recent year’s field research indicates wolves are not the limiting factor. ”Potential signs of nutritional limitations were identified, including increased caribou birth rates and reduced calf weights,” Bruning said. A Fish and Game study published earlier this year said Forty Mile caribou grew from 13,000 in 1990 to over 50,000 at last count, but that the biggest growth was prior to wolf control. Since 2004, over a thousand Forty Mile area wolves have been shot from aircraft, under a state intensive management program that’s cost millions of dollars. Bruning stresses the program’s scientific value…“If a herd is reaching carrying capacity, it’s imperative to be ready to reduce the number of animals on the land to prevent a precipitous collapse or crash,” Mauer said. Mauer, is frustrated that the state hasn’t already curtailed the Forty Mile area wolf kill. Hunting can be used to thin the herd, but Mauer, said it’s ironic that the state may also end up relying on wolves to reduce the caribou to a sustainable number.