|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Date:||February 26, 2009|
|Contact:||Jim Stratton, NPCA 907-277-6722 ext. 203 or 907-229-9761|
Alaska's Predators Under Fire Within National Park Lands
Bears and wolves threatened by increased hunting in national preserves
Anchorage, Alaska— The nation’s leading voice for the national parks, the nonprofit National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), has asked the Alaska Board of Game to stop manipulating populations of brown bears and wolves in federally-run national preserves, which the state is now doing to artificially increase moose and caribou numbers for hunting.
"The State of Alaska has put a bulls-eye on bears and wolves in our national parks and preserves," said Jim Stratton, NPCA’s senior regional director in Alaska. "Alaska’s national parks and preserves attract visitors from around the world for the opportunity to see animals like bears and wolves, but if the Alaska Board of Game continues to illegally increase hunting of bears and wolves on our parklands, the natural balance of our national parks will be in jeopardy."
Since 1992 the Board of Game has used the state Intensive Management law to significantly increase bear and wolf harvest levels at Lake Clark, Katmai, Wrangell-St. Elias and Denali National Preserves, despite objections from the National Park Service. This increase conflicts with National Park Service wildlife management policy, which prohibits the depletion of healthy wildlife populations on parklands for the purpose of increasing the numbers of harvested animals.
For example, game management units at Wrangell-St. Elias and Katmai National Preserves have seen bag limits increase from five wolves per regulatory year in 1993 to ten wolves per day in 2003. At Denali National Preserve, the bag limits for bears have increased from one bear every four years in 1993 to two bears per year in 2005.
"Our national parks and preserves are the core of the protected habitat that sustains Alaska’s healthy wildlife numbers," continued Stratton. "The current level of hunting in preserves is in direct conflict with federal law and puts healthy predator populations and the ecological integrity of our parks and preserves at risk."
NPCA has submitted proposals requesting that the Board of Game roll back hunting regulations on national preserve lands to pre-Intensive Management levels. This regulation rewrite would exempt national preserve lands from increasing season lengths and bag limits for lands in Denali, Katmai, Lake Clark, Aniakchak and Wrangell-St. Elias national preserves.