U.S. Wildlife Service Denies Protection Of Alaskan Wolf, Says Species Is ‘Stable’ Despite Only 50 Remaining

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has denied requests by conservationists to protect a specific population of wolves on the Prince of Wales Islands. The Alexander Archipelago wolf has been watched by conservationists for years; however, the Wildlife Service has once again denied their request to offer protection to the Alaskan wolves. The department claims that the overall Alexander Archipiélago wolf population is “stable” and that despite the Prince of Wales Islands pack numbers dropping to around just 50, the population of the wolves in other regions are not in danger. However, conservationists say that the Prince of Wales Islands Alexander Archipelago wolves deserve specific protection as they are distinctly different from other Alexander Archipelago wolf population’s genetically.

The L.A. Times reports that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has denied requests to include a group of Alaskan wolves on the endangered or threatened species. The wolf species in question is the Alexander Archipelago wolf. The Wildlife Service agreed with conservationists that certain populations of the species were shrinking due to logging; however, they maintained that the species overall is “stable” so no protection is needed.

“Although the Alexander Archipelago wolf faces several stressors throughout its range related to wolf harvest, timber harvest, road development, and climate-related events in southeast Alaska and coastal British Columbia, the best available information indicates that populations of the wolf in most of its range are likely stable.”

Though the overall population of the Alaskan wolf are “stable,” conservationists say a specific portion of its range in the Prince of Wales Islands is in severe danger due to excessive logging. The conservationists say that the wolf population on the Prince of Wales Islands has dropped from over 300 to just 50 in the last few years due to logging, which has caused a decline in deer, a main source of food for the wolves. As a result, the wolves are struggling to remain on the islands. The conservationists note that the Prince of Wales Islands Alexander Archipelago wolf population is worth saving as the wolves have a distinctly different genetic makeup than their mainland counterparts.

However, the government officials concluded that the genetic differences did not matter as the wolves on the island do not have any “significant adaptive variation.”

“[Genetic data] does not indicate that the GMU 2 population harbors significant adaptive variation, which is supported further by the fact that the GMU 2 population is not persisting in an unusual or unique ecological setting.”

According to Pulse Headlines, the government body also pointed out that the Prince of Wales wolves only account for 6 percent of the current estimated population and 4 percent of the range of the Alexander Archipelago wolf. Therefore, they feel that any negative change will not impact the species as a whole in any significant way.

What do you think about the Wildlife Service’s response to the call to protect the Alaskan wolves? Do you agree with the conservationists that the specific wolf population is worth saving due to slight genetic variations, or do you agree with the Wildlife Service that the population as a whole must be considered?

[Image via Change.org]