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Protected Wolves in Alaska Face Peril From Beyond Their Preserve

posted Sep 4, 2017, 9:34 PM by chloe owens

7/14/2017, by Joanna Klein, The New York Times

Protected Wolves in Alaska Face Peril From Beyond Their Preserve

The study, published in June in Wildlife Monographs, suggests that when the Alaskan authorities were limiting wolf populations outside the Yukon-Charley preserve, survival rates of wolves within the preserve were lower than usual. The findings highlight the notion that managing wildlife within human-imposed boundaries requires communication and cooperation with the authorities beyond a preserve’s boundaries, and could have implications for wildlife management programs elsewhere. Since the 1990s, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has spent millions of dollars, first sterilizing wolves, then shifting to shooting and killing hundreds of the animals from helicopters (independently, it announced the planned suspension of the program next year). The wolves were targeted as part of an intensive predator management program in the Upper Yukon-Tanana region aimed to increase the population of the Forty mile caribou herd in lands surrounding the preserve. Once estimated to number in the hundreds of thousands, the caribou herd fell to just 6,000 in the 1970s… The targeted caribou herd, which was already increasing before these efforts began, has now reached more than 50,000 and is showing signs of nutritional stress, according to a study published in The Journal of Wildlife Management in January. It suggests that food availability, rather than wolf predation, could be limiting the size of the caribou population.