Today the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced it would not list the Alexander Archipelago wolf as a threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act.
Although the FWS decision said the agency didn’t consider the Prince of Wales Island wolves to be separate from the broader Alexander Archipelago wolf population throughout Southeast Alaska and British Columbia, the agency acknowledged “…that the taxonomic status of wolves in southeastern Alaska and coastal British Columbia is unresolved and that our knowledge of wolf taxonomy in general is evolving as more sophisticated and powerful tools become available…”, leaving the door open if new research warrants reconsideration.
In a report released this past fall, Audubon Alaska identified old-growth logging as one of the root causes behind the 75% decline of the wolf population on Prince of Wales Island in Southeast Alaska. “The alarming population decline is most immediately caused by the direct take of wolves from significant poaching and the unsustainable legal take authorized by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, but the underlying cause is extensive logging and roads that initiate many harmful effects, including overharvest of wolves,” said Melanie Smith, Audubon Alaska’s Director of Conservation Science.
In today’s decision, the FWS concluded “…that timber harvest is affecting the GMU 2 [Prince of Wales Island region] wolf population by reducing its ungulate prey [Sitka Black-tailed Deer] and likely will continue to do so in the future.”
“This decision won’t help the wolves on Prince of Wales Island, but having the agency name logging as the major stressor of the wolf population calls on the Forest Service and Alaska Department of Fish and Game to step up and make management decisions that will prevent the wolves’ continued decline in the Tongass. Ultimately, the Forest Service needs to end old-growth clearcut logging on the Tongass,” says Melanie Smith, Audubon Alaska’s Director of Conservation Science.
Since 1977, Audubon Alaska's mission is to conserve the spectacular natural ecosystems of the state, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats, for the benefit and enjoyment of current and future generations. Audubon Alaska uses science to identify conservation priorities and support conservation actions and policies, with an emphasis on public lands and waters.
Now in its second century, the National Audubon Society is dedicated to protecting birds and other wildlife and the habitat that supports them. Our national network of community-based nature centers and chapters, scientific and educational programs, and advocacy on behalf of areas sustaining important bird populations, engage millions of people of all ages and backgrounds in conservation. Audubon Alaska, a state office of the National Audubon Society, has worked to conserve birds in the state since 1977. www.AudubonAlaska.org