Alaskan wolf won’t get protection under the Endangered Species Act even if only 89 individuals remained on the Prince of Wales Island.
The USFWS (United States Fish and Wildlife Service) has recently announced that the Alaskan Alexander Archipelago wolf won’t gain protection under the federal law despite the fact that in their Species Status Assessment from last November the service made it very clear that the population declined by 75 percent from 356 individuals in 1994 to 89 individuals in 2014.
More than that, the USFWS has identified a number of stresses that might have consequences on the specie’s decline but they claim that most of these factors are affecting the wolf population indirectly rather than directly.
The stress factors include road development, events related to the climate and climate change, timber harvest but also wolf hunting. These factors are interconnected since, for example the development of roads gives hunters better access to the wolves and the timbering is declining the number of deer which are the wolves’ primary source of food.
However, hunting is a factor which affects the wolf populations in the most direct way possible and which could be easily stopped if the species would gain protection under the federal law.
But the USFWS said on Tuesday that the Alexander Archipelago wolves living on Prince of Wales Island does not represent a unique ecological setting and the species’ genetic characteristics do not differ from other wolf populations.
Wildlife advocates are absolutely outraged by USFWS’s decision saying that it is knowingly giving up on the Alaskan wolves.
A Forest Campaigner at Greenpeace, Larry Edwards told Alaska Public Media that the USFWS has overlooked some very important facts in taking the odd decision.
According to USFWS’s estimations there are between 850 and 2,700 living individuals of Alexander Archipelago wolves of which about 62 percent living in British Columbia and 38 percent in southeastern Alaska.
These estimations have sparkled another debate making advocates say that the USFWS’s over-estimations of the wolf populations show their lack of knowledge in the domain.
However the decision has political implications as well, as if the Alaskan wolf would have been granted protection under the Endangered Species Act the Tongass National Forest’s timber sales would have been forbidden.
Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski claims that the environmental groups were using the wolf to stop the last standing timber industry in Southeast Alaska.
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