Protecting Wolves and Bears

NPCA is committed to protecting predator animals such as wolves and bears which are native to many national parks. Wolves are valuable not just for their beauty and grace, but also their important relationship to the regions they inhabit. The loss of predators such as wolves can have a ripple effect that throws an entire ecosystem out of balance, affecting not just other wildlife, but plant populations, too. Recent research shows that loss of wolves and bears creates an overpopulation of game animals such as deer, and in the case of Wyoming, elk, which in turn reduces plant life and harms biodiversity. Hunting by humans simply does not offer the benefits that natural predators do in the wild.

NPCA at work

  • Protecting wolves and bears at risk in Alaska. NPCA has repeatedly testified against extreme measures the Alaska Board of Game has taken to permit the killing of wolves and bears, including baiting, snaring, allowing the harvest of bear cubs and sows with cubs, and using artificial light to kill bears in their winter dens (called spotlighting). NPCA believes the Park Service should assert more authority in regulating the hunting of wolves and bears on national park land. Fortunately, on January 15, 2013, the Park Service proposed regulations that would offer some protection to wolves and bears on national park land, stopping brown bear baiting, killing wolves and coyotes when they have pups, killing cubs and sows with cubs, and killing bears in their dens during hibernation. NPCA strongly supports these measures.
  • Defending wolves near Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Gray wolves were recently removed from the Endangered Species List in Wyoming and Montana, but hunters are now permitted to kill them in most parts of these states despite their recovering populations. NPCA has been advocating for the safety of these animals. Montana recently enacted a buffer zone around Yellowstone National Park in which wolves cannot be killed, but it is unclear whether this will lead to long-term protections for these iconic animals.
  • Supporting wolf reintroduction in the Northwest. NPCA supports the Washington wolf conservation and management plan that will restore gray wolves to the Olympic Peninsula and other areas in the Northwest. Issues with livestock and game animals complicates their return, however.
  • Raising awareness on wolf health at Isle Royale. The remote wolf pack at Isle Royale National Park in Michigan faces possible extinction due to climate change; the ice bridges that once brought new wolves to the island have melted, leaving just eight wolves in the park. NPCA is monitoring research and raising public awareness on the best course of action for these wolves.
  • Supporting grizzly bear recovery in North Cascades National Park. With leadership from North Cascades National Park and support from NPCA, and after nearly two decades of waiting, preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) examining North Cascades grizzly bear recovery, as well as alternatives for recovery, is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2014.

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