Sunday, March 27, 2011

Military Base Wolf Removal Effort Successful

- ADF&G Press Release

Cora Campbell, Commissioner
P.O. Box 115526
Juneau, Alaska 99811
Phone: (907) 465-6137 - Fax: (907) 465-2332

Press Release: No. 11-21, March 25, 2011
Contact: Mark Burch, 907-267-2387

Military Base Wolf Removal Effort Successful

Juneau – Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G) biologists, working in cooperation with military personnel, have removed nine wolves on the Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson (JBER). The wolves were considered a significant threat to public safety on the military installation and in surrounding residential areas.
“The effort was successful. We feel confident we have minimized public safety risks by removing specific wolves and significantly reducing wolf numbers in the area,” said Mark Burch, Regional Supervisor, Division of Wildlife Conservation.
Over the winter, the nine wolves were taken by joint ADF&G/JBER trapping and ground shooting efforts. These actions are believed to have mitigated risks to public safety. However, ADF&G biologists and military personnel will continue to monitor the situation and take wolves if necessary.
The wolf removal effort was in response to habituated wolves in the area that were becoming increasingly aggressive towards humans and pets. Tissue, bone, and hair samples from the wolves will be analyzed to develop profiles of dietary habits. This information could prove useful for future comparative studies. In addition, samples will be used as part of a broader genetic study of Alaska wolves.
To prevent future problems, area residents must take precautions not to leave out garbage, pet food, or other attractants that might draw wolves near homes and into neighborhoods. In addition, homeowners should take precautions to secure pets and livestock. Negligent and intentional feeding of wolves is prohibited by state regulation (5AAC 92.230).
People should enjoy outdoor pursuits, but recognize risks and take precautions when recreating in wolf and bear country. Children should always be accompanied by an adult and dogs should be on a leash. For detailed information about coexisting with wolves, preventing habituation, and staying safe in wolf country visit .
ADF&G biologists and JBER officials would like people to continue to report wolf sightings or encounters on or near the military base. Please immediately report sightings to the base dispatcher at 522-3421, or call the Division of Wildlife Conservation Information Center at 267-2257 Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Western Arctic Caribou Herd in Slight Decline, Hunter Numbers Stall Out

(Kotzebue) ADF&G conducted a photocensus of the Western Arctic Caribou Herd (WACH) in July 2009 and came up with a preliminary finding of 401,000 caribou, an increase of roughly 6% over the estimated 377,000 animals estimated in the 2007 census. Further analysis, however, determined that the numbers are actually lower than the first estimate by 53,000 head, with the count coming in at 348,000 caribou. This represents an actual drop in the WACH population of nearly 8% between 2007 and 2009. The herd has been in steady decline at the rate of 4-6% annually since it peaked at 490,000 animals in 2003, however Jim Dau, the ADF&G area biologist suggests that these numbers indicate that the herd is relatively stable, and that the decline is well within acceptable parameters, and certainly preferable to continued growth and the possibility of an abrupt decline. Dau asserts that the reduced numbers are not a result of hunting pressure.

Nonlocal hunters pursuing WACH animals have seen decreased opportunities in recent years as a result of lower bag limits and limited air charter availability due to regulatory reductions on the number of hunters each charter can haul to the field.