JUNEAU — The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has closed wolf hunting and trapping on Douglas Island after three wolves were killed by harvesters.
The closure, which will be in place through Aug. 1, comes even though wolves are a rare sighting on the island. Fish and Game cameras have captured only five wolves, but biologist Stephanie Sell estimates there may be about 10 of the animals.
She told the Juneau Empire that Douglas didn’t start receiving wolf sighting reports until 2012.
It’s unclear whether the three animals killed by trappers and hunters were among the ones the department have seen on camera.
Wolves can move freely between Douglas Island and the mainland via the Mendenhall Wetlands, which Sell described as a “superhighway for wildlife.” Wolves are known to frequent the wetlands, particularly at night.
In 2002, wolf hunting and trapping was also banned on the island. A group called Voices for Douglas Island Wildlife had called on the Alaska Board of Game to implement the ban after seven wolves were trapped.
Board members agreed to protect wolves as long as the island’s deer population remained stable. They eventually established an island-wide management area where wolf hunting is limited when deer populations are high.
— The Associated Press