Over the past ten years, there has been a 75 percent decline in the Alexander Archipelago wolf population, but the US Fish and Wildlife Service insists that the animals on Prince of Wales Island are not endangered.
Recently, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) stated that the wolves on Prince Wales Island do not require protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), even though the population of Alexander Archipelago wolves has drastically declined.
The USFWS Species Status Assessment found that the wolf population dropped from 356 to only 89 individuals from 1994 to 2014 – that is a whopping 75 percent decline.
A number of changes identified in the area may have affected the wolf population, the US Fish and Wildlife Service stated. These include: road development, climate events, timber harvest, and wolf hunt.
Timber harvest and climate change affected the Alexander Archipelago wolves indirectly, because it actually limited the wolves’ main food soured – deer. On the other end of the spectrum, wolf hunting actually impacted the population directly. The US Fish and Wildlife Service said that although road development might seem like a random stressor, it actually gave trappers and hunters better access to wolves.
According to the USFWS, Alexander Archipelago wolf does not qualify for the Endangered Species Act protection because, based on its genetic characteristics, the population does not differ greatly from other populations, and it also does not persist in a unique or uncommon ecological setting.
However, wildlife advocates believe that the US Fish and Wildlife Service is in fact giving up on the Alexander Archipelago wolves.
Larry Edwards, a Forest Campaigner with Greenpeace, said that it was very unusual how the US Fish and Wildlife Service acknowledged the wolf population decline on Prince of Wales Island, but then proceeded to do nothing about it.
Based on USFWS estimates, there should be about 850 to 2,700 Alexander Archipelago wolves in total: 38 percent living in south-eastern Alaska, and 62 percent in British Columbia. Even so, wildlife advocates say that USFWS’s wide range estimates are not accurate.
Drew Crane, the Regional Endangered Species Coordinator at the US Fish and Wildlife Service, stated that although the USFWS is concerned about the Alexander Archipelago wolves on Prince of Wales Island, those wolves only represent about six percent of the entire wolf population of its kind.
Over the next thirty years, the wolf population will decreased by eight to 14 percent, the US Fish and Wildlife Service predicts.
Image Source: wallphotoprints