JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A request to get the declining population of wolves on Prince of Wales Island an emergency listing on the Endangered Species List has been denied.
The assistant regional director of the U.S. Department of the Interior, Mary Colligan, issued a response to the six conservation groups that requested the listing.
In a letter, Colligan said the emergency listing cannot be requested, and is instead something for the Secretary of the Interior to decide.
“If at any time we determine emergency listing is necessary, an emergency rule may be promptly deployed,” she wrote.
The Department of the Interior is already considering a general listing for the wolves. Last year, the department agreed to conduct a detailed analysis after finding that the petition to list the wolves had merit. A decision on whether to protect the animals is legally required by the end of the year.
Officials estimate the wolf population on Prince of Wales Island and smaller islands to the west dropped from 221 wolves in fall 2013 to 89 wolves in autumn 2014.
Researchers aren’t sure what is causing the decline. It is also not clear whether the wolves in Alexander Archipelago are a unique subspecies or gray wolves, which are found throughout North America.
In August, state and federal managers reduced the combined limit for the federal subsistence and state general hunts to nine wolves in Game Management 2, which includes Princes of Wales Island and nearby islands.
The state season will be closed if all nine wolves are killed during subsistence hunting and trapping seasons.