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January 23, 2022



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Sunday, November 14, 2021

Board of Game Denies Wolf Protection

The Board of Game has voted not to stop hunting and trapping of wolves that reside in the area surrounding the perimeter of Denali Park. These “golden wolves” are the most seen, most photographed and most valuable in the state. But the Board of Game in their infinite wisdom, voted unanimously to reject a petition filed by multiple wildlife groups.

These groups were requesting the return of the “buffer zone” east of the park boundary where many wolves from the Granite pack would stray over park boundary lines into land where trapping and hunting were permitted. After the zone was eliminated in 2010, despite enormous public outcry, and objections from the National Park Service, wolf sightings declined to almost nothing for visitors coming to the park.

Once again proving the lack of diversity of interest which is mandated for the Board of Game, the board unanimously voted to reject the petition, blaming unnamed “environmental groups” and playing the victim yet again.

“They want everything. We just can’t give to everybody. Every environmental group would like to shut down the whole state, and we can’t do this,” Yurko said.

Actually Mr. Yurko, you weren’t asked to give to everybody, and you weren’t asked to shut down the whole state. Sorry to disturb your moment of Drama Queen.

“We’re denying, really, hundreds of thousands of people the opportunity to see wolves with any reasonable prospects of success, and in exchange a couple trappers get just a little bit more area to trap in,” said John Toppenberg, the director of the Alaska Wildlife Alliance, which is among the groups that filed the petition.

The Board has said it won’t visit the topic of the buffer zone and whether it should be restored until at least the year 2016. In the meantime, the economy of Alaska will suffer. The group National Wolfwatcher Coalition has cancelled a wolf-watching expedition to Denali Park, which it said wolf mean a loss for Alaska of $200,000 in tourism money.

An advocacy group, the National Wolfwatcher Coalition, said it was canceling scheduled wolf-watching expeditions to Denali, which it asserted would mean about $200,000 less tourism spending in Alaska.

And it’s not going to get any better until we get an administration that has some common sense, and fulfills its obligation to have  a Board of Game with diverse interests, and is not simply full of big game hunters and trappers who fail to see any value or beauty to Alaska’s wildlife unless they’re skinning it.

Here is a video and description from YouTube of the Grant Creek wolf pack in Denali Park.

My name is Todd Hardesty. I film wildlife documentaries in Alaska. When filming in Denali National Park I always looked forward to seeing the the Grant Creek wolf pack. The alpha female (wearing the radio collar) and alpha male were easy to spot, often traveling down the park road. I filmed the pack over two seasons, in 2009 and 2010. In one memorable encounter, the alpha female was off hunting while the male took the pups on a walkabout. They had six pups that year. Only he left one behind! When the female returned she rounded up all the pups. This alpha female was always a bit wary and kept her distance. Still, many thousands of visitors to Denali National Park had “the experience of a lifetime” seeing this wolf and the rest of the pack, hunting and playing within close proximity. This was one of two Grant Creek breeding females which died recently. One from natural causes and the second in a snare.



21 Responses to “Board of Game Denies Wolf Protection”
  1. I'm calmer than you Dude says:

    This decision is one of many anti-nature decisions made by the BOG over the past 20 years. The system is broken and the Board of Game is corrupt. Nothing short of a complete rewrite of the law that establishes the Board of Game will stop these pro-kill, anytime, anywhere despots.

    Demanding of Gov Poodle that things change will help, letters to the editor and grassroots engagement will help, support from legislators will help and plenty of media will help to encourage the only way toward change: a lawsuit that demands that the BOG be representative of the citizens of Alaska (statute requires that). Its is currently comprised of ONLY hunters and trappers. Only about 25% of Alaskans have hunting permits.

  2. mike from iowa says:

    This is a must read for all concerned about Denali wildlife and tourism.

    • Alaska Pi says:

      Thanks Mikey- I had finally found it too.
      It is the full text of the petition with language describing why petitioners think it meets/met the terms of an emergency.
      and the other link leads to:
      “It is the state policy that emergencies are held to a minimum and are rarely found to exist.”
      In the ADN article, one of the board members said the petition failed to meet the standards needed to qualify as an emergency under regulations without discussing why it failed.
      So we’re left with the doof Yurko’s remarks about environmental groups who want to shut the whole state down? Great.
      So- remarks in the petition about public perception of Alaska’s game policies and laws and how they might affect tourism ( and do) didn’t even get read would be my guess.
      Yup- just more slapping at the Fed. That is all this is. Goody.
      Just what we need to be doing again, still, even, and also. Pfft!

      • mike from iowa says:

        Off topic,but and this is a big but,coming from the party that concluded adultery is an impeachable offense for a Dem potus and could find nothing wrong with two illegal,unnecessary wars and intentionally outing a covert CIA agent by a rethuglican potus,I am not at all surprised they can’t find their butts with either hand.

  3. Lani says:

    We do not appreciate that one species survives and the others do not. The ice cap has melt away. Times are a changing. The old rules do not apply.

  4. UgaVic says:

    Although suing the state, if possible, seems that it might be the best course, I doubt it will have much of an impact here unless it can be hauled somehow to the Federal court system.

    Now gathering all the tourist related businesses, including airlines and putting the squeeze on the state with letters of lost business and such should have much more impact. I would include legislators and the Gov…but not worry much about the board. Let others pressure them.

    IF anyone WAS planning a trip and is not now, let a travel agent or tour company know.

    Ask the groups interested in the issue to help form a boycott and something tells me the Gov will knuckle in just like he did with a cruise ship tax, which had little to no REAL money loss behind it, but did have businesses yelling!

    As sad as it the US $$$ speaks higher than the ‘right thing to do’, at least in Alaska when it comes to wildlife!!

  5. HoboJohn says:

    70 wolves on 6 million acres equals one wolf per 86,000 acres. Yellowstone is doing much better with the reintroduction of wolves in the mid 90s. It is 1/3 the size of Denali at 2 million acres but home to 200 packs and over 1,700 wolves. Unfortunately Alaskans will continue to elect oil cronies that con’t give a hoot about anything besides $$$$. U-betcha kill, baby kill!

  6. thatcrowwoman says:

    What a crying shame.

    Big Bad Wolf?
    Seems to me I can see a Big Bad Board of Game from my forest on the Gulf of Mexico.

    How’s about We Huff
    and We Puff
    and We Blow the House Down?
    Those “DownTicket” races and ensuing appointments do matter.
    Get Out the Vote.


    and also, too, storytellers!

  7. Zyxomma says:

    “A spring survey estimated there were about 70 wolves in the 6 million-acre park, with density at a 25-year low, according to park biologist Borg.”

    This is from the article to which Alaska Pi linked (thanks, Pi). It makes me unutterably sad. It’s not like there was a buffer around the entire park! WTF?

  8. Alaska Pi says:

    Since “Six board members voted by email that it didn’t rise to the level of an emergency under the law.”


    does anyone know the language in the law?

    Or the argument the petitioners used to explain their stance that it is an emergency?

    Simple Mind is correct.
    Figuring out what economic value wildlife viewing in Denali has to the state and local economy is important as is figuring out who to put pressure on to get a fuller examination of policies like dropping this buffer zone.
    If dropping the buffer zone is grounded in anything more than being snotty about/to the Fed I haven’t heard it yet.

    • mike from iowa says: try this site,scroll down to rule 504-emergency petitions. This is for supreme court and appellate courts,but it is pretty well explained what and why an emergency petition could be filed. Sounds like Parnell’s bullies have already done irreparable harm to Denali Park.

  9. Simple Mind says:

    Its an old rhetorical rule that arguing values is tough. No one will ever be able to convince Mr. Yerko of the intrinsic value of seeing a wolf in the wild. The time for changing values is election and appointment time. What is needed now is an appeal to a common interest – money. I haven’t dug around in the numbers for awhile, but a few years ago, the local impact of money spent by visitors to Denali National Park was something around $145,000,000 a year, including some 1,500 jobs. That didn’t include associated spending in Anchorage, Fairbanks and along the coast for cruises, transport, hotels, restaurants, etc. An enormous part of the appeal of the Park, other than seeing the mountain, is the chance to see the animals – most specifically bears and wolves. The Board of Game is relatively impervious to pressure. They live in their little, imaginary world where environmentalist are sneaking up all around, trying to steal their chain saws and rifles. The people to convince and pressure are Princess Tours, Holland America, the Alaska Railroad, the big hotels, the car rental folks, and everyone else who depends on the tourist dollar. Governor Parnell wouldn’t recognize a wolf if it ran up and bit him in the ***, but he knows money.

    • mike from iowa says:

      How does one expect wild animals to obey boundaries they can’t fathom when the nutjobs appointed to make the rules can’t fathom the boundaries supplied by fish and game laws? Parnell’s appointees must be relatives of early Americans who forced treaties on Native Americans but had no intentions of honoring said treaties.Parnell and friends need to be reminded the Constitution of Alaska clearly states that resources are managed for all Alaskans,not just Parnell’s buddies. Don’t make me come up there and pull Parnell’s ears.

  10. Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

    This is just plain sad and depressing. That three people can deprive potential millions of a once in a lifetime experience just to satisfy the bloodthirsty cravings of a few troglodytes (apologies to cave dewellers elsewhere) makes no sense at all. I know WC reads and comments here, perhaps he could offer some ideas regarding what possibility there is that some sort of tourism coalition with the park could sue the BoG
    to force them to rescind this incredibly short sighted policy that only serves a tiny special interest group?

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