On March 31, 2014, we published a 90-day finding in the Federal Register indicating that a petition dated August 20, 2011 presented substantial information to suggest that listing may be warranted for the Alexander Archipelago wolf. As a result of the positive 90-day finding, the Service will conduct a 12-month status review of the species to determine whether the petitioned action is warranted. We have opened a 60-day comment period which closes on May 30, 2014.
The Alexander Archipelago wolf is named for the island group that makes up most of Southeast Alaska, the Alexander Archipelago. The range includes the mainland of Southeast Alaska and islands south of Frederick Sound, excluding Coronation, Forrester, and the smaller, more isolated islands without an adequate prey base. North of Frederick Sound, three large islands that support seemingly adequate prey populations (Admiralty, Baranof, and Chichagof ) and together make up approximately half of the land area of the Alexander Archipelago, do not support wolves, although there have been several wolf sightings on Admiralty Island in recent years. Genetic analyses have shown that wolves in coastal British Columbia and Southeast Alaska are genetically similar, but these populations are genetically distinct from interior continental wolves.
The Alexander Archipelago wolf’s population size is uncertain, but was estimated at approximately 900 animals in the fall of 1994. Prince of Wales Island was estimated to support approximately 250 to 350 wolves. Population trends are largely unknown for most of the wolf’s range, but the population may have declined on Prince of Wales Island in recent years.
Information presented in the petition, and available in the Service’s files, indicates that conversion of old-growth forest to dense second-growth stands through commercial logging has resulted in declines in deer habitat quality in some areas of Southeast Alaska. Declines in deer habitat capability to date, and into the future, are expected to result in declines in wolf populations, as deer are the primary prey of Alexander Archipelago wolves in most areas. Perceived shortages of deer by local hunters are anticipated to result in increased efforts to reduce wolf numbers through increased trapping and hunting for wolves.
Over harvest of wolves by hunters and trappers has been documented on Prince of Wales Island, where an extensive road system built primarily to support timber harvest facilitates human access through many wolf pack home ranges. Substantial illegal harvest of wolves has been documented on Prince of Wales Island.
Contact: Steve Brockmann at 907-780-1181
Federal Register Notice (March 31, 2014)
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