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Tensions have recently risen between the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the National Park Service, after state biologists shot wolves that were part of a federal study. (File/KTUU-DT)
National Park Service spokesperson John Quinley says the two agencies may disagree, but NPS will keep Fish and Game informed of its activities. (File/KTUU-DT)
ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Two state and federal government agencies with two different agendas are facing off once again.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game says it is very disappointed by the National Park Service's announcement Thursday that it is closing sport hunting and trapping in three Interior preserves.
There has been tension between the two agencies recently, but just a few weeks ago both agencies came together and agreed that better communication is needed between the two agencies.
On March 17, state wildlife biologists conducting a predator control program shot and killed a pack of four wolves near the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve boundary. Those wolves were wearing radio collars as part of a Park Service long-term research project.
Fish and Game's predator control program kills wolves to bolster caribou and moose populations, while the Park Service tries to keep wildlife populations thriving on federal land.
"We think we understand what went wrong, and how to prevent it from going wrong in the future," Park Service spokesperson John Quinley said last month.
On Tuesday, however, the Park Service announced it would ban sport hunting and trapping of wolves in Yukon-Charley Rivers. It also prohibited the killing of black bear sows and cubs in their dens using artificial light in parts of Denali National Preserve and Gates of the Arctic National Preserve.
While subsistence hunting and trapping in the preserves remain open, the federal agency says the action is necessary to protect wolves and bears.
Fish and Game disagrees, and says the closures are based on poor interpretations of data.
"Allowing park managers to supersede state regulations based on undefined ‘values' is an unwarranted and confrontational intrusion upon the state's management prerogatives," Fish and Game Commissioner Denby Lloyd said in a press release.
Quinley says the move should not have been a surprise to Fish and Game.
"We met with state Fish and Game officials, either in person or in lengthy phone conversations, 13 times over the past few months about these exact issues," Quinley said. "And we responded to about 15 pages of comments that they made about the proposal, so they clearly knew what was being done and why."
Quinley says the state has misrepresented the events leading up to the implementation of these regulations.
"We're going to continue to disagree on things, but we're going to continue to outreach to them and consult with them on what we're doing, so that they know what we're doing," Quinley said. "They may not agree with it, but that's different than consultation."
Contact Lori Tipton at email@example.com