With hunting season starting on September 1st, six conservation groups are seeking for the Alaskan Alexander Archipelago wolves to be listed as endangered species, and that their trapping and killing should be halted for an entire year.
The numbers have dropped dramatically and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had had the issue on their plate for several years without a proper measure taken or response given. Now, conservation groups are demanding for an emergency listing to protect the population of wolves roaming around the Prince of Wales Island and neighboring islands.
The Alexander Archipelago wolves (Canis lupus ligoni) often dig dens in the large roots of trees and hunt the black-tailed deer around Sitka for food. Now, the animals are facing four months of legal hunting and poaching, with already low numbers that might lead to their extinction upon the grounds if measures aren’t taken.
During the 1990s, the Prince of Wales Island had a population of around 300 wolves, with the numbers gradually falling through the years. In 2014, their population fell to 221, to then drastically plummet to 89 in June this year. Only last winter, 29 wolves were trapped and poached.
Their recovery is not in the slightest encouraged by the state and federal officials giving permission to track down and kill 9 more of them in the following four months.
The hunting season began in September and will be ongoing until the end of the year, which will further damage the numbers of Alexander Archipelago wolves. Their population is already suffering from health issues and inbreeding, so hunting will only add more fuel to the fire that might just extinguish this particular species of wolves in the Prince of Wales Island and surrounding areas.
The six conservation groups, Alaska Wildlife Alliance, Cascadia Wildlands, Center for Biological Diversity, Greater Southeast Alaska Conservation Community, Greenpeace and The Boat Company, have requested an emergency listing for the Alexander Archipelago wolves on the Endangered Species Act.
Their petition to stop the legal hunting season this year has already been rejected, according to Gabriel Scott from Cascadia Wildlands. The petitioner has stated that the management of wolf hunts is reckless and poor, due to the fact that they are not treating them as a perishing species, in spite of their severe fall in numbers.
Noah Greenwald from Center for Biological Diversity has also stated that 9 wolves to be killed this season is far too much, and that allowing it is like “sucker-punching a heart-attack victim”, diminishing an already small population and pouring salt to the injury.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to deliver an answer by December, but this year’s season will continue and nine more Alexander Archipelago wolves will be legally harvested.
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