The National Park Service wants to close the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve to sport hunting and trapping of wolves. (File/KTUU-DT)
John Quinley of the NPS says there is some tension between his unit and the state Department of Fish and Game. (Shawn Wilson/KTUU-DT)
ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- The National Park Service wants to close the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve to wolf hunting this season.
It's calling for the emergency closure days after the state Department of Fish and Game killed a pack including collared wolves that are considered part of the preserve.
The Park Service wants to close all sport hunting and trapping in the preserve. It says wolf numbers dropped more than ever before this winter.
"Normally there is a drop off from fall to spring, and that ranges anywhere from 11to 37 percent. We're now seeing a higher reduction upwards of 40 percent or more, and that includes those wolves that were taken last week by Fish and Game," said John Quinley with the National Park Service.
Last week Fish and Game said it mistakenly killed a pack of wolves known to roam in and out of the preserve. Two of the four wolves were collared.
"There's definitely a tension between us and Fish and Game, and partly it's because they've got a different mission," Quinley said.
The goal of the NPS is to preserve a healthy population of wolves living in the park, while the state's mission is to manage predators to grow moose and caribou populations.
"Forty-seven times the Park Service has asked the State of Alaska, 'Please don't implement these regs on our lands,' and 47 times the state said,'The heck with it, we're going to do it anyway,'" said Jim Stratton, the Alaska regional director of the National Parks Conservation Association. "So what's going on at Yukon-Charley is just an example of a larger breakdown of communication between the State of Alaska and the National Park Service."
Fish and Game did not immediately respond to multiple calls asking about the wolves killed.
The Park Service says the numbers aren't low enough to stop subsistence hunting, but depending on how public meetings go, sport hunting could be closed all season, which runs through May 31.
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