The killings Wednesday evening came just two days into the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's 2010 aerial wolf control program. According to NPCA reports, "state gunners in helicopters killed the entire Weber Creek wolf pack from Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, including two collared wolves from a 16-year National Park Service scientific study."
"NPCA calls for the immediate suspension of the state’s wolf eradication program in and around Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve until the Park Service is fully satisfied that the biological integrity of Yukon-Charley wolf packs can be evaluated and a healthy population of wolves can be ensured," the group said Thursday in a statement.
The shootings of the pack came despite a Park Service request that no wolves from the nine packs denning in the preserve be shot due to this year’s high natural winter mortality, NPCA officials said.
While Alaskan officials would not agree to those terms, they apparently had agreed not to shoot collared wolves, the advocacy group said. To help protect those collared wolves, Park Service officials had provided the game officials "with the frequencies of the collared wolves important to the NPS scientific study so the gunships could avoid them," said NPCA.
Biologists have spent the past 16 years working with radio-collared wolves in Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve to better understand the predators. According to NPCA, "(T)his winter the mortality of wolves in the preserve was the highest on record. thirty-eight percent of the wolves in the preserve died over the winter."