A decision by Alaska's Board of Game to eliminate a wolf no-take zone on land surrounded on three sides by Denali National Park and Preserve has prompted an animal rights group to call for a boycott on tourism travel to Alaska this year.
The Game Board voted 4-3 last week to not only reject requests to expand the existing buffer zone, but to eliminate it entirely.
There once was a proposal to turn over to the park this rectangular block of land due west of Healy, Alaska, that follows the Stampede Trail, but it never got off the ground. As a result, wolves that leave the park and follow caribou to wintering grounds on this landscape are subject to trapping in some places. There has been a buffer zone that comprises roughly half of the rectangle on the western end in which wolves can't be hunted or trapped.
The decision to do away with the buffer zone was condemned Monday by Friends of Animals.
“The state decision is obnoxious,” said the group's president, Priscilla Feral. “And it contradicts what the park authorities had asked for. Federal officials had recommended expanding the buffer zone to protect wolves naturally wandering outside the park’s boundaries.
“As long as Alaska officials thumb their noses at common sense and decency, the public should stop supporting the state," she continued in a prepared statement. "We understand this is not easy for businesses, but we need their public declaration in support of the wolves and their advocates! It’s the (state) government that’s condoning the killing of the very animals tourists go up to see.”
The existing buffer zone had covered 90 square miles, according to the National Parks Conservation Association. Packs that frequent it and which often are viewed by Denali visitors include the East Fork Pack, the Grant West Pack, and the Nenana Pack. Packs that were wiped out by hunting and trapping include the Headquarters Pack, Savage Pack, and Sanctuary Pack, according to the group's records. Not every individual of a pack must be killed for the pack to collapse. And in some cases, new packs have re-established themselves in similar territory and have new names.
Friends of Animals, a group opposed to all hunting and trapping of wolves, pressed to reinstate a 600 sq.-mile east and northeast boundary buffer similar to that established in November 1992. Instead, not only has that area shrunk, but the current Board of Game went so far as to try to control federal lands proposing wolf control inside Denali National Park.
“Don’t support Alaska,” Ms. Feral said. “Alaska’s state officials have shown a disgraceful lack of respect for nature and the ecosystem as well as the wolves themselves. Governor Sean Parnell needs to step in and control the humans who are paid by the state.”
Appended to the release was a request that those upset with the Game Board's decision write Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell to let him know they will boycott travel to Alaska because of the state’s "wolf persecution."
Gov. Sean Parnell
P. O. Box 110001
Juneau, AK 99811-0001
Telephone: (907) 465-3500