- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Here is a sampling of editorial opinions from Alaska newspapers:

Feb. 16, 2014

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Once again, a misplaced effort surfaces to ‘protect’ wolves that roam outside park

It’s back. But common sense can prevent it from going anywhere.

It’s another proposal, introduced in the Alaska Legislature on Wednesday, to encourage the establishment of a permanent wildlife buffer zone east of Denali National Park and Preserve.

House Concurrent Resolution 17, by Anchorage Democratic Rep. Any Josephson, would, if approved, request Gov. Sean Parnell to negotiate with the U.S. Department of the Interior to achieve the buffer zone through “the exchange of a state conservation easement in return for a transfer from the federal government of equal value in the form of an easement, other federal land, other interests in federal land, or compensation.”

The governor would be asked to report on the negotiations by July 1 of this year.

This is all about wolves and preventing the lawful trapping of them outside of Denali National Park’s boundaries.

Animals, as we all know, don’t recognize map boundaries in their wanderings. Near Denali, wolves roam ranges split by different governments with their own sets of hunting and trapping regulations.

The latest attempt in the long-running campaign by some to establish a buffer zone is likely the result, in part, of a well-publicized wolf trapping in the spring of 2012. A trapper legally caught the last remaining breeding female in the Grant Creek pack that established itself in the eastern boundary area outside the park. The pack consequently produced no pups and fell apart.

The void likely won’t remain for long. Wolves have high rates of reproduction, meaning populations recover quickly from loss. Young wolves grow and seek to establish their own territories.

The publicity given to the trapping of the breeding female, while noteworthy, actually can leave the wrong impression. It isn’t humans who are the greatest threat to wolves; rather, researchers have found that wolf mortality can be attributed generally to a host of other occurrences that nature throws at them: illness, parasites, accidents, starvation, injuries from moose and attacks by other wolves, especially those in rival packs.

HCR 17 makes a big leap where it says “the taking of wolves normally present in Denali National Park and Preserve when they cross the eastern boundary of the park onto state land contributes to the decline in the viewing of wolves in the park. .”

This misguided effort to re-establish the buffer zone that was removed by the Board of Game in a 4-3 vote in 2010 also found renewed life in a November report from the National Park Service that states that fewer visitors to Denali are seeing a wolf.

The report found that just 4 percent of the visitors who traveled the park road in shuttle buses in 2013 saw wolves. That’s down from 12 percent in 2012, 21 percent in 2011 and 44 percent in 2010.

Story Continues →