Alaska -- The Alaska Board of Game narrowly voted Friday to eliminate the wolf
protection buffer zone around Denali National Park. Environmentalists are
speaking out against the move, but board members defend the decision.
was a request on the table to increase the buffer zone, but it was eliminated
wolves in the wild are a sight you won't soon forget -- but seeing them less
often is what some fear will happen.
was measured, counted over 140 just a few years ago -- now it's about 70," said
University of Alaska Anchorage professor Rick Steiner, who supported the buffer
zone. "Several packs from the park have been eliminated altogether."
you look at the percent of state residents that are in favor of expanding, or at
least have said so, it's very minute," said board Chair Cliff Judkins.
a press conference Friday night, wolf supporters expressed their outrage at the
board's decision to open about 122 square miles of Denali National Park to
hunting and trapping wolves.
95 percent of the state, on state and federal lands, is already open to trapping
and hunting," said buffer zone supporter Mary Beth Holleman. "We were just
asking for one small percentage of it. This Board of Game is not representing
did not find any reason to keep it, as far as the number of people that come to
the park," Judkins said. "I don't they'll be any less people going there because
the buffer zone isn't there -- they'll still be wolves."
Swift, a bus driver at the park, fears wolf sightings will decrease.
am horrified at this decision as someone that appreciates wildlife," Swift said.
"And again, I just want to point out, it's not just about the out-of-staters.
There are plenty of Alaskans, as the recent survey in Anchorage show, that want
to see wildlife."
majority of the board members disagree, saying the population won't be hurt --
it will adjust instead, and sightings will still be possible.
probably in most cases will see just as many wolves as they see now," Judkins
said. "I don't see that it's going to cause a problem -- because the issue is
pretty much overblown."
come to Denali for all sorts of reasons -- for the wild spaces, the mountain,
bear and caribou and sheep," Steiner said. "But one of their strongest reasons
is they want to see wolves in the wild, and Denali is one of the best places in
the world to see wolves in the wild."
a passionate issue, with no buffer zone between hunters and wolf supporters.
board also voted to put a moratorium on the issue, so it won't come up again for
another six years.
Jason Lamb at firstname.lastname@example.org and Rebecca
Palsha at email@example.com