The Tongass National Forest is the largest national forest in the United States at 17 million acres. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)                                 The Tongass National Forest is the largest national forest in the United States at 17 million acres. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

The Tongass National Forest is the largest national forest in the United States at 17 million acres. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File) The Tongass National Forest is the largest national forest in the United States at 17 million acres. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Prince of Wales wolf hunt numbers set

Once feared endangered, wolf numbers on fourth-largest U.S. island have rebounded

Wildlife managers have set a harvest number for this year’s wolf hunt on Prince of Wales Island.

Biologists with the Alaska Department of Fish & Game and the U.S. Forest Service announced Friday that hunters will be allowed to hunt and trap 45 wolves on Prince of Wales and associated islands this fall and winter hunting season.

Wolves on Prince of Wales are known as Alexander Archipelago wolves and were once feared endangered. Numbers had dropped to just 89 animals in 2014, leading environmental groups to lobby for their protection under the Endangered Species Act. That idea was shot down in 2016 after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined the isolated population of wolves are not genetically distinct from mainland wolves.

Wolf numbers on the island have recovered since then. In 2016, wildlife managers estimated that 231 wolves lived on the island. The most current population estimate puts that number at 225 wolves, managers say.

[A predator and a pedestal]

Numbers are up so high that subsistence hunters on the island worry that wolves are killing too many deer. As much as 20 percent of those wolves are up for harvest, and local hunters lobbied last year to increase that number to 30 percent of the population. A federal game board turned that idea down in May.

Wolf populations on Prince of Wales and associated islands, known as Game Management Unit 2, are hard to pin down, managers say. Prince of Wales is the fourth-largest island in the U.S. Much of it is covered by dense forest, making aerial surveys impractical.

Managers instead started use fur samples caught with barbed wire snares to analyze wolf DNA, analyzing the samples with statistical models to estimate populations, according to ADF&G.

This year’s quota was based on data collected through December of 2017. Results of the last two years of population studies suggested that rapid population growth on the island has stabilized, managers say.

Credible reports of unreported human-caused wolf deaths will also be counted toward this year’s harvest quota.

The Alaska Board of Game meets in Petersburg in January, 2019, affording an opportunity for hunters to again change how GMU 2 wolves are managed. Fish and Game has submitted a proposal to eliminate percentage-based management, opting instead to manage wolves on the island based on a population size, where more wolves would be harvested if the population rises above a set number.

The Craig Fish and Game Advisory Committee has also proposed extending the Unit 2 trapping season.

Wolf hunting season for federally-qualified subsistence hunters on federal lands opened Sept. 1 in Unit 2, and trapping for those hunters will open Nov. 15.

State wolf hunting and trapping seasons in Unit 2 open on Dec. 1.

• Contact reporter Kevin Gullufsen at 523-2228 and Follow him on Twitter at @KevinGullufsen.

More in Home

Juneau Assembly members and other visitors examine a meeting room formerly used by the nine-member Alaska State Board of Education and Early Development on Monday, April 8, which is about 25% larger than the Assembly Chambers at City Hall. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Of three possible new City Hall buildings, one stands out — but plenty of proposed uses for other two

Michael J. Burns Building eyed as city HQ; childcare, animal shelter among options at school sites.

The Boney Courthouse in downtown Anchorage, across the street from the larger Nesbett Courthouse, holds the Alaska Supreme Court chambers. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska judge strikes down state’s cash payments to families using correspondence school programs

Decision will become a ‘hot-button legislative item’ in final weeks of session, lawmakers say.

Senate President Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, speaks to members of the Senate majority caucus’ leadership group on Friday. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Schools, university and projects across Alaska are set to receive money from new budget bill

Alaska Senate sends draft capital budget to House as work continues on a state spending plan

A fenced lot proposed as a campsite for people experiencing homelessness located next to the city’s cold weather emergency shelter, in the background, is also next door to a businesses where extensive construction is scheduled, thus prompting city leaders to rethink the proposal. (Photo by Laurie Craig)
Indefinite ‘dispersed camping’ for homeless proposed by city leaders due to lack of suitable campsite

Proposed Rock Dump site is next to long-term construction, more costly than expected, report states.

A statue of William Henry Seward stands outside the Dimond Courthouse in downtown Juneau. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Juneau man convicted of sexual abuse of 15-year-old girl more than four years after incidents occur

JPD: Randy James Willard, 39, sent explicit videos to and engaged in sexual contact with victim.

Capital Transit buses stop at the Valley Transit Center on Thursday. Two bus routes serving areas of the Mendenhall Valley and near the airport will temporarily be discontinued starting April 22 due to lack of staff. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Capital Transit temporarily suspending two Mendenhall Valley routes due to shortage of drivers

Officials hope to fix situation by July; extra tourist buses also scaled back due to fleet shortage.

Rep. David Eastman, R-Wasilla, watches as the tally board in the Alaska House of Representatives shows the vote against House Joint Resolution 7 on Thursday. Eastman supported the amendment. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska House votes down constitutional guarantee for Permanent Fund dividend

Guarantee had been discussed as part of long-term plan to bring state expenses in line with revenue.

Rep. DeLena Johnson, R-Palmer and co-chair of the House Finance Committee, speaks Thursday on the House floor about the state’s operating budget. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska House passes draft state budget amid warnings that state spending doesn’t balance

Changes during floor debate include $9M by Rep Andi Story, D-Juneau, for youth reading program.

Most Read