Alaska Confirms Massive Decline in Rare Wolves, Still Plans to Hunt Them

Another harvest could do irreversible damage to the wolf population.

Alexander Archipelago wolf. (Photo: Facebook)
Jun 20, 2015
by Samantha Cowan

In 1994, southeast Alaska was home to about 300 Prince of Wales wolves, a subspecies of Alexander Archipelago wolves. By 2013, there were fewer than 250. Last year the population plummeted 60 percent to 89 wolves. New numbers confirm that the rare breed may have dropped to as few as 50.

But the diminishing numbers won’t stop hunters from trapping and killing the wolves, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is moving ahead with its 2015–2016 hunting and trapping season on Prince of Wales Island.

“Another open season of trapping and hunting could push these incredibly imperiled wolves over the edge,” Shaye Wolf, a biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement.

A reported 29 wolves were killed during last year’s hunting season—which accounts for between 33 and 58 percent of the population. Either figure means the species is in danger of being completely wiped out, especially as females were hit particularly hard this season…


Help Close the Door on Risky Arctic Drilling


From: Ocean Conservancy

Big news! Shell Oil announced that it is giving up its quest to drill for oil in the U.S. Arctic Ocean. Shell’s retreat from the Arctic is a testament to all those who raised their voices in opposition to risky Arctic drilling. More importantly, Shell’s decision is great news for the bowhead whales, walruses, ice-dependent seals and other wildlife species that could have been devastated by an oil spill in this remote region.

But there’s still more work to do to protect Arctic waters from the threat of offshore drilling! In the coming months, the Obama Administration will decide whether to sell more oil leases in the Arctic Ocean. Let’s not go down that road again. Join Ocean Conservancy in calling on President Obama not to go forward with any new lease sales in the Arctic Ocean:;jsessionid=7440033D34B36417CC1EBCA579359C83.app261b?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=1067&s_src=15WAXAXXXX&s_subsrc=15AADN10&AddInterest=2147

Walrus Slaughter in Alaska Raises Ivory Poaching Concerns

Sep 23, 2015 02:11 PM EDT

Pacific Walrus

25 walrus were found dead in Alaska. This raises concerns of poaching. (Photo : Flickr: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters)

A total of 25 walrus along an Alaskan beach were found decapitated. This large-scale slaughter prompted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to investigate, and while the cause of death has not been determined, they believe it could be linked to the illegal ivory trade. Walrus tusks are made of ivory.

“We can’t say with any certainty what the cause of death here was. You know, these animals, from the photos, do appear to have their heads taken off, but we can’t make any assumptions that that’s why they were killed, if they were, in fact, killed,” Andrea Medeioros, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said in a statement. “You know, people can take the heads if they find a dead walrus on the beach.”

Under the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act, it is illegal to hunt walrus solely for their ivory and not their meat.

700 Walrus Seen Near Shell Oil Rigs in Arctic as Obama Visits Alaska

 August 31, 2015 10:39 am 

James MacCracken, supervisory wildlife biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said in an Aug. 28 press conference call, “We are getting reports from Shell daily” of walrus near the ships and rigs and the talley so far is “700 walrus” seen by observers. When asked if all operations around the walrus by Shell are within the guidelines set by Interior Department regulation, MacCracken said, “Yes.” This is the first confirmation that protected sea mammals are swimming through the Burger oil leases which Shell just got permission to deep drill. Observers, paid by Shell, are required by Shell’s permit to perform drilling and other activities which might disturb or injure sea mammals. More information to come on this.

First aerial views of thousands of Pacific walrus hauling out Aug. 23 on Alaska Arctic shore.  Photo credit: Gary Braasch / World View of Global Warming
First aerial views of thousands of Pacific walrus hauling out Aug. 23 on Alaska Arctic shore. Small detail of telephoto image of 2015 haul out. Photo credit: Gary Braasch / World View of Global Warming

The press conference was also the first direct acknowledgement by the U.S. agencies in charge of studying and protecting the mammals that a new haul out had begun—nearly a week after the event actually started and only three days before President Obama begins his tour of Alaska focusing on rapid climate change. Gary Braasch made the first photos of the haul out at about 7 p.m. on Aug. 23, after seeing on USGS maps of locations of geotagged walrus that several were stationary in the Point Lay area.

Thousands of Pacific walrus coming ashore in northwest Alaska as sea ice melts recedes from habitat. Photo credit: Gary Braasch / World View of Global Warming
Thousands of Pacific walrus coming ashore in northwest Alaska as sea ice melts recedes from habitat. Photo credit: Gary Braasch / World View of Global Warming

Help protect the imperiled Archipelago wolf!‏


A rare and dramatically declining gray wolf subspecies in Alaska will face critical threats from hunting this year unless we act immediately.

The population of Archipelago wolves found on Prince of Wales Island, a remote island in southeast Alaska, has plummeted in recent years due to unsustainable old-growth logging and hunting. Despite this population crash, the federal government plans to allow subsistence hunting – a decision that may push the population to the edge of extinction.

The subsistence hunting season for Archipelago wolves on Prince of Wales Island will open on September 1st unless the Federal Subsistence Board cancels the hunt.

On Prince of Wales Island, roads built for old-growth logging are making it easier for hunters, trappers, and poachers to kill Archipelago wolves at an unsustainable rate. The Prince of Wales Island wolf population is now very low, perhaps only a few tens of wolves – down from an estimated 250 to 350 in the mid-1990s.

The start of hunting is just a few days away and could serve as a fatal blow to these embattled wolves.

Demand that the hunting of these rare wolves be stopped!

copyrighted wolf in water

Alaska big-game hunting “safe” from airline trophy bans

August 6, 2015 – 12:06am

The amount of revenue generated by resident and non-resident hunting activities and their support systems means big game is a big deal for Alaska.  James Brooks | The Juneau Empire

James Brooks | The Juneau Empire
The amount of revenue generated by resident and non-resident hunting activities and their support systems means big game is a big deal for Alaska.


It has been more than a month since an American Dentist killed Cecil the lion, Zimbabwe’s most famous feline, but public uproar regarding the lion’s death is certainly still alive.

On Monday, three major U.S. airlines added their names to a growing list of carriers limiting, and in some cases eliminating altogether, the transport of hunting trophies.

“Effective immediately, Delta will officially ban shipment of all lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo trophies worldwide as freight,” Delta announced in a press release Monday. United Airlines and American Airlines released similar statements the same day, joining several other international carriers — some of whom started banning hunting trophies as early as April.

Alaska Airlines has no intention to implement any such ban. The Seattle-based company has made clear that it will continue allowing the transport of hunting trophies as long as they meet the airline’s existing guidelines.

“Our existing policy works well for the people in the Lower 48 and in Alaska, and we’re not making any policy changes,” said Bobbie Egan, a spokesperson for Alaska Airlines.

Though most carriers’ hunting-trophy bans primarily target trophies taken in Africa, Delta went on to say that it “will also review acceptance policies of other hunting trophies,” potentially impacting trophy hunting in Alaska. Delta is engaged in tight competition with Alaska Airlines for service to and from the 49th state, having added year-round service to Fairbanks, Juneau and several other communities in recent years.

Nonetheless, many of Alaska’s top sport-hunting officials are not worried that these bans will hurt the state’s robust big-game hunting industry, which drew in $3.9 million from hunting-tag fees in 2014.

Since the 1960s, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has awarded and sold thousands of hunting tags annually to Outside visitors seeking to hunt the biggest state’s biggest game. Caribou, moose, black bears and grizzly bears are the animals most sought after by out-of-state sport hunters.

None of the major U.S. airlines banning hunting trophies have added these animals to their no-fly lists and bison, available in Alaska, are hunted in extremely small numbers. However, even if the airlines banned all shipments, the Alaskan big-game hunting industry likely wouldn’t be impacted, said Kelly Vrem, chair of the Alaska Big Game Commercial Services Board.

Vrem has been a guiding big-game hunts for more than four decades and hunting even longer. The way he sees it, the bans are hardly more than a publicity stunt by airlines.

“This is kind of grandstanding on the airlines’ part,” Vrem said. “It’s is nothing but an opportunity to get some free advertising.”

Most out-of-state hunters who are coming to Alaska and taking trophies home are not transporting them on commercial airlines, he said. Instead, these hunters use regular freight companies or specialty expeditors to ship their trophies home, and that has been the case here for more than 20 years.

“For a fair amount of time now, it has really been impractical to ship trophies by air,” Vrem said. “It was a hassle for them, and it was a hassle for us, too. It was just a nuisance for everyone.”

Such a nuisance, in fact, that Vrem’s business, Kelly Vrem’s Rough and Ready Guide Service, officially changed its policy regarding shipment of trophies in 1993 to recommend against using commercial airlines for shipping.

The airlines didn’t like dealing with trophies because they are typically large and heavy, he said. They take up a lot of space, and can be damaging to other luggage. If packaged improperly, for example, caribou horns are sharp enough to puncture soft luggage stacked on top of them, he said.

Back then, Vrem never had a problem with the airlines. It was simply easier for both parties if hunters shipped their trophies using freight services. However, now Vrem said he plans to avoid flying with any airlines imposing hunting-trophy bans, which he sees as useless if not insulting. He’s not the only one.

Thor Stacey, a hunting guide and member of the Alaska Professional Hunters Association, said the hunting trophy bans are useless in protecting animals and offensive to hunters.

“We feel, in a way, very picked on,” Stacey said. “It’s akin to the person who doesn’t want to make wedding cakes for same-sex couples who are getting married.”

Stacey said animals would be better protected if these airlines would impose a tariff on the transport of trophies rather than a ban. The extra money raised by the tariff could then be put toward habitat protection and conservation, he said. “Now that would be something we could understand.”

Delta and United did not respond to the Empire by press time. American issued the following statement, “Even though we do not serve the continent of Africa, we will no longer transport buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion or rhinoceros trophies.”

• Contact reporter Sam DeGrave at or at 523-2279.

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Judge fines Greenpeace as Shell ship retreats from Ore. protest

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Royal Dutch Shell PLC icebreaker Fennica heads upriver in Portland, Ore., Thursday, July 30, 2015.

Groups want hunting season suspended for rare Alaska wolves

— Six conservation organizations are asking state and federal authorities to stop hunting and trapping seasons for Alexander Archipelago wolves, a southeast Alaska species that den in the root systems of large trees.

Greenpeace and the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned to list the wolves as endangered in August 2011.

The groups say large-scale logging fragments forests and reduces carrying capacity for Sitka black-tailed deer, the prey of the wolves.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in September agreed to decide by late 2015 whether the wolves warrant endangered species protection.

Rebecca Noblin of the Center for Biological Diversity says without hunting and trapping suspensions, wolves on Prince of Wales Island will be gone before the government can decide whether they need endangered species protection


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