F&G worker shoots injured wolf in national preserve

FAIRBANKS — The Alaska Department of Fish and Game says it’s working with federal officials to review their hunting protocols after a wolf was killed inside the boundaries of the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve.

The department issued a news release Tuesday saying that an employee hunting wolves from a helicopter on March 9 had shot and wounded a wolf on state land near the national preserve boundary. The employee fired the fatal shot after the wolf entered the preserve, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

“The wolf bolted north, over a ridge and down a steep slope, and had crossed into the preserve boundary by the time it was relocated and put down with a second shot,” the release says.

Alaska Division of Wildlife Conservation Regional Supervisor Darren Bruning said the initial shot was fired within “hundreds of yards” of the national preserve boundary.

The wolf kill comes amid a long-running dispute between the state and federal government over Alaska’s predator control policies, which allow the hunting of predators to boost moose and caribou populations.

The release says state officials are cooperating with the federal government over last week’s shooting and that the state plans to review its protocols.

John Quinley, a National Park Service spokesman, said talks with the state have been “productive.” The Park Service has conducted a review of the area where the wolf was shot, Quinley said by email, but it is too early to determine exactly what changes federal officials will ask the state to implement.

“Our interest, over several years of interaction with the state on this topic, has been to have aerial predator removal measures outside of Yukon-Charley Rivers avoid, to the degree possible, wolves which spend most of their time within the national preserve,” he said.

The National Park Service does not allow aerial hunting on any of its Alaska parks or preserves. The agency has argued that targeting predators to boost large game animal populations does not fall in line with the park’s mission to keep predators and prey in their natural balance.

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