FAIRBANKS — Only 22 wolves have been killed by private pilot-gunner teams with permits from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to shoot wolves from the air or to land and shoot them in five different predator control areas of the state.
That compares to 167 wolves taken by aerial gunners last year.
In the last seven years, more than 900 wolves have been taken as part of the state’s predator control program. That’s an average of about 125 per year.
Department spokeswoman Cathie Harms summed up the big drop in harvest between last winter and this winter in two words.
“No snow,” she said.
Lack of snow has made it hard for pilots to track wolves, and combined with the high price of aviation fuel, has kept planes grounded for much of the winter, she said.
At last report, nine wolves had been taken in game management unit 13 (Nelchina Basin); eight in units 12, 20E, 20B, 20D and 25 C (upper Yukon-Tanana); three in unit 16 (west Cook Inlet) and two in unit 19D (McGrath). No wolves had been reported killed in unit 19A (central Kuskokwim).
Permits allow aerial teams to continue killing wolves until April 30, if snow conditions allow for landing planes to retrieve wolf carcasses.