State applauds USFWS ruling to not list SE Alaska wolves under Endangered Species Act

A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision to not list Southeast Alaska wolves under the Endangered Species Act is getting kudos from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G), which said such action is not warranted.

“The service found these wolves are not at risk of becoming endangered with extinction, and that Alaska’s management of these wolves is sustainable,” said ADF&G Commissioner Doug Vincent-Lang.

The ESA listing was proposed in a 2020 petition by conservation groups to the USFWS. The agency announced on Tuesday that the listing is not warranted. The petition asked the USFWS to designate the Alexander Archipelago wolves as a distinct population segment (DPS) and consider that DPS for listing as threatened or endangered. 

Alternatively, the petition requested that the USFWS evaluate Alexander Archipelago wolf subspecies for listing, where Southeast Alaska constitutes a significant portion of the range. This was the third time since 1993 that conservation groups have petitioned the USFWS to designate the Alexander Archipelago wolves under the ESA, and to designate critical habitat for that population.

The USFWS determined ESA listing was not warranted following petitions in 1993 and 2011 that cited similar threats. The latest petition was submitted following one season of high harvest in one Game Management Unit (GMU 2) during fall/winter of 2019. GMU 2 consists of Prince of Wales and adjacent islands.

ADF&G has acknowledged the high harvest of wolves in 2019 and says the agency has adapted management efforts to better track in-season take of wolves and ensure sustainability of harvests over the long term. Since the fall of 2020, harvest in GMU 2 has varied from 62 to 68 wolves annually, and annual population point estimates have ranged from 286 to 386 wolves, according to ADF&G.

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The agency said it is conducting numerous research and management projects to evaluate potential threats and to inform management needs for wolves in Southeast Alaska.

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