Despite opposition from the superintendent of Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska's Board of Game voted Friday to eliminate a "buffer zone" and allow hunting and trapping just outside park boundaries.
The board voted 4-3 in favor of the wolf kill, which was sought by the state's powerful hunting and trapping interests. The park's management had favored creation of a larger buffer zone.
Conservation and wildlife groups fear that a "killing zone" will deplete two wolf packs frequently viewed by park visitors. Controversy broke out nearly a decade ago when several Toklat River wolves, being studied by park biologists, were killed when they ventured beyond its boundaries.
Alaska politicians, including ex-Gov. Sarah Palin, have sponsored and championed an aerial wolf hunt on state-owned lands, with the goal of increasing populations of moose and caribou for sport and subsistence hunters.
Palin has dueled with Defenders of Wildlife, which in 2008 produced a film showing hunters blasting away from the air, wounding and killing wolves and then loading the bloody carcasses.
The Anchorage Daily News reported Friday that Denali Park's wolf population is at its lowest point in 23 years.