Wolf Song of Alaska News


Wolverine Trapping Changes in Chugach State Park
       
Steve MacDonald / KTUU-TV / April 9, 2007

http://www.ktuu.com/Global/story.asp?S=6347146

Anchorage, Alaska -- A decision to open several sections of Chugach State Park to wolverine trapping isn't sitting well with some outdoor enthusiasts.

A letter authored by a former governor and his former head of state parks is calling for a public hearing on the board of games decision.

The only place most people will ever see a wolverine is at the Alaska Zoo.

The fierce animals live in remote areas and are very reclusive, but right now they are in the front and center of a debate.

Jim Stratton said he wants to see a public hearing.

"A lot of us were pretty surprised when the Board of Game came out and said there's 11 to 23 wolverines left in Chugach State Park and since no one can ever see them because there are elusive animals - let's go and trap them all," Stratton said.

Stratton is among a growing number of people upset over a decision made last month by the Board of Game.

The board decided to open several sections of the park to wolverine trapping.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game Biologist Rick Sinnott said the wolverines need to be protected

"One of the purposes of the park is to preserve the opportunity for people to view wildlife in the wild. And if there's only 11 to 23 wolverines in the whole park, why would you want to diminish what is already a rare opportunity to see a wolverine?" Stratton said.

That estimate of 11 to 23 wolverines comes from Sinnott, who recommended against the Board adopting the new regulation.

Sinnott said at least two wolverines a year a snared accidentally by traps meant for animals like lynx or coyotes.

"So we felt that harvesting another even one wolverine in the park we were already pushing the number that could be trapped in the area but harvesting one more in the park every year for sure was going to tip us over the top," Sinnott said.

Board Game Member Bob Bell is one of the supporters of the new trapping regulation. 

He said the Board's decision actually fixes the problem of accidentally trapping wolverines 

"So what they asked is just open the season concurrent with the lynx season so if we do catch one or two a year we can keep them, rather than turn them over to the state," Bell said.

The new regulation allows for wolverines to be harvested in three areas where trapping for other game already exists.

The new regulations also shorten the trapping season for all species by about a month.   

"So we not only shortened the season in areas outside the park where they can catch them, we shortened up the lynx season so the net result is you're going to catch less wolverines and less lynx," Bell said.

That change doesn't appease Stratton.

"I find it a little odd when you say there will be fewer wolverines caught when now you're putting out traps that are targeting wolverines," Stratton said.

Stratton and three others, including former Gov. Tony Knowles have sent a letter to the Division of Parks calling for a public hearing on the Game Board's decision.

"Convene a meeting lets have a public discussion. Lets give people a chance to talk about this because that discussion didn't really happen at the Board meeting," Stratton said.

Another worry of people against the trapping decision is the possible danger the traps pose to dogs.

Sinnott said bait to lure wolverines to traps could also attract dogs and said the traps are powerful enough to kill a dog.  

Bell said the areas where trapping will be allowed are remote sections of the park, where he said few people go. Bell also said they are areas that already allow trapping of other animals like coyotes and lynx.  

People against wolverine trapping said the Division of Parks can't over turn the new trapping regulations, but Stratton said the Division could put restrictions on the types of traps that could be used.

E-mail Steve MacDonald at smacdonald@ktuu.com

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