The Alaska Board of Game voted unanimously Tuesday to ban wolverine trapping in Chugach State Park after the first season of the program caught as many dogs -- two -- as wolverines.
The Game Board opened the park to wolverine trapping in 2007 against the recommendations of area Fish and Game biologists, who said it could deplete wolverine numbers in the region.
Though he voted Tuesday for the ban, Soldotna board member Ted Spraker remained unconvinced the population was at risk.
"We're doing this because there was a lot of sentiment, we're reversing our decision, but I want to make it clear that the data would allow this board to continue with an open wolverine trapping season," Spraker said.
"But there's more issues there than just trapping."
Wolverine traps killed a pit bull-Lab mix in January 2008 and injured a Lab three days later, feeding criticism of the new season.
As the Game Board meets this week to decide hunting rules for the region, Defenders of Wildlife called for reinstituting the ban.
"The Board of Game based its decision to allow wolverine trapping on a non-scientific agenda that supports the expansion of trapping at the expense of all other user groups and the long term health of the park's wolverine population," wrote Wade Willis, a Defenders spokesman.
Board member Bob Bell of Anchorage sought to answer such accusations Tuesday.
"This board acts on behalf of the resource and not on behalf of any group, whether it's trappers or the Chugach Park Advisory Board or anybody else," he told a small crowd at the Dena'ina Convention Center in Anchorage. "Our main concern and the concern of the department is to do what's best for the resource first."
Bell added an amendment to the trapping ban that prohibits Conibear-style traps over 7 inches for trappers after other types of game.
Those larger traps, said Anchorage Fish and Game Advisory Chairman Aaron Bloomquest, "basically caused most of the problems with dogs getting hurt or killed in traps in the park."
The Game Board rejected a series of proposals that would have further restricted trapping in the park, including calls to push trapping activity at least 1 mile from all trails and a blanket ban on trapping lynx in the park.
Find Kyle Hopkins online at adn.com/contact/khopkins or call him at 257-4334.