Fairbanks to take stance on wolf hunting near Denali park

  • Monday, August 22, 2016 10:37pm
  • News

FAIRBANKS (AP) — Fairbanks officials plan to weigh in on a statewide dispute about wolf hunting rules near Denali National Park.

A resolution from Fairbanks North Star Borough Assemblyman Van Lawrence urges Gov. Bill Walker to halt wolf hunting and trapping near a boundary on the park’s northeast side. The Assembly will consider the resolution Thursday, but it cannot directly change the rules, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

The yearslong debate over hunting comes as the park’s wolf population has been on the decline. But the predators have healthy numbers in the state and are not a threatened species, the newspaper reported.

It’s not clear how the assembly will vote on the issue, but Assemblyman Lance Roberts said decisions on game management should be left up to the state.

“I don’t think it’s the borough’s place to get into game management,” Roberts said. “There’s a whole process that’s developed over decades that’s helped grow the availability of wildlife out there, and I think we should leave well enough alone.”

Wolf advocates are calling on the Alaska Board of Game to reinstate a no-hunting buffer zone along the Stampede Road corridor, which cuts into the park.

In 2000, the state instituted a buffer zone to prevent wolf hunting close to the boundary, but the game board repealed it nearly a decade later.

A recent proposal from the National Park Service would compromise by implementing a buffer zone only during certain times of the year, with the goal of protecting wolves during the breeding season.

The proposal asks the game board to close wolf hunting in the Stampede Road corridor from Feb. 1 to July 31 and to close wolf trapping from Feb. 1 to Oct. 31. The board is scheduled to consider the proposal at a February meeting in Fairbanks.

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