Logging Lawsuit in Tongass National Forest Invalidated

A federal appeals court just invalidated four U.S. Forest Service logging projects in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. Congratulations to Larry Edwards, Greenpeace, and all involved in the successful lawsuit!
 
The Tongass National Forest is not only the country’s largest national forest, but also the world’s largest remaining temperate rainforest. The four projects were slated to clear cut 33 million board feet of timber from a 1,700 acre section of old-growth in the National Forest. About 14 miles of logging roads would have been constructed in order to support this logging.
 
If allowed to go through, the logging would have destroyed critical deer habit, which serves as prey for the rare Alexander Archipelago Wolf (there could be as few as 50 left!) and is vital for subsistence farmers in the area.
 
Congratulations again to Larry Edwards and all involved on this huge win for Alaska’s wildlife!
 
Check out more information at Greenpeace. https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/forests/alaska/

The McNeil River Needs Our Help!

Photo by Bob Hallinen.

With headwaters in the Aleutians, the McNeil River provides sustenance to a vast array of wildlife, most notably salmon and brown bears. It was designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1967 to protect what is currently the world’s largest congregation of wild brown bears. As many as 144 bears have been observed at McNeil River over a summer, and in recent years as many as 80 bears been in view at a time.

 

The McNeil River State Game Sanctuary and the bears that live there need our help. The construction of Pebble Mine and its infrastructure (a deep water port and a two lane road) poses a huge threat to nearby McNeil River State Game Sanctuary and the world’s largest seasonal congregation of brown bears. In fact, the construction would be a direct violation of the mandate legislating the Game Sanctuary, which states its purpose as: “The permanent protection of brown bear and other fish and wildlife populations and their habitats for scientific, aesthetic, and educational purposes” and “To manage human use and activities in a way that is compatible with that purpose and to maintain and enhance unique bear viewing opportunities in the sanctuary”.

 

So, what can you do? Visit the McNeil River Alliance’s website below, and submit your public comment in support of the bears and wildlife of the sanctuary. Comments are due May 31, 2019!

 

https://mcneilriveralliance.org/

Aeriel Wolf Hunting is Back in Unit 13

Aerial wolf hunting is back in Unit 13 Intensive Management Area.

Alaskans for Wildlife strongly opposes the Intensive Management (IM) response by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game as a 1994 political, not scientific, legislative manuever by the Alaska Legislature to turn Alaska wildlands from their natural biological diversity into game farms, manipulating the wildlife balance by eliminating apex predators. The IM practice has killed thousands of wolves over past decades at outrageous costs, using public monies with little desired results.

Intensive Management Act must head for repeal as a political act that destroys biodiversity and brutalizes target carnivores. It has been effectively reducing naturally occurring wildland ecosystems into farms under the Alaskan Departmen of Fish and Game, which should perhaps be renamed the Alaska Department of Farming Game.

Check out the full story from Alaskas Dispatch News here.

A year and a half ago, British Columbia banned grizzly bear hunts, citing that they were no longer socially acceptable. The move was supported by First Nations people, including Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, who called grizzly hunts a “barbaric practice”.

And yet Idaho and Montana, just to the south, are pushing to reinstate bear trophy hunts…

Check out the full story at White Wolf Pack here.

Black Bear Hunts Approved in Chugach State Park

Yesterday, two proposals to allow bear hunting in two new areas of Chugach State Park were approved by the the Alaska Board of Game. The two areas are McHugh Creek and Upper Campbell Creek Drainage Area, adjacent to Powerline Pass. Board Chairman Ted Spraker claims that these hunts were proposed to reduce conflicts between bears and humans in those areas, after public concerns were supposedly raised about the proximity of bears living near Anchorage. Spraker claims that opening up bear hunts will make the hiking trails safer.

These two new hunting areas still need approval by Chugach State Park before they can be formalized, and Park Superintendent Kurt Hansel is questioning the need for more black bear hunting in the park, as well as additional safety concerns of having hunters near where the public recreates.

Check out the full story from KTVA here.

Department of Interior Announces New Plan for Gray Wolves

On March 14, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced its plan to remove federal Endangered Species Act protections from gray wolves in the lower 48.

Without federal protections, it is likely that wolf management will be turned over to state authorities. Historically, this has resulted in wolves becoming fair game for trophy hunters. Wolves are just beginning to reclaim territory after decades of unremitting slaughter that nearly brought them to extinction, and a removal of protection will greatly threaten this comeback.

Check out the article by the Wolf Conservation Center here for more information. Public comments are open until May 14, 2019!

The Demise of the Riley Creek Pack

This splendid black beauty was photographed by a visitor to Denali National Park right on the park road. The visitor was understandably thrilled to see and photograph this gorgeous park wolf up close and personal.

 

Viewing living iconic park wildlife in one of the nation’s greatest wilderness national parks is the ultimate Alaska experience for visitors, and Alaska residents often seek the same experience. Unfortunately, according to a reliable source who is a permanent resident living in the park area, this very black wolf was likely legally shot and killed when it strayed outside of park bounds.

 

Years ago the Alaska Board of Game agreed to enact a protective no kill buffer along the park’s northeastern boundary. However in 2010 the board cancelled the buffer, likely influenced by a few local trappers and hunters who seek to legally kill wayward park wolves, essentially treating the national park as a nursery furnishing a supply of animals to kill. Several recent attempts to reestablish the protective buffer to protect straying park wildlife have been formally made to the board (which consists of seven trappers and hunters), but all efforts have been dismissed.

 

Other attempts to legislatively and administratively reestablish the no kill buffer have also failed, even in the face of a recent statewide poll revealing that the majority of state residents favor such protection for park wildlife.

 

Meanwhile, visitors continue to come to Alaska seeking a Denali Park wildlife experience, pouring millions of dollars into the area’s economy. An eight year old economic study by the Alaska Dept. of Fish & Game already demonstrates that the economic value derived from visitors seeking watchable living, wildlife far exceeds that resulting from trophy and sports hunting.

 

One of Alaskans For Wildlife’s goals is to support and push policies that protect Alaska’s wildlife. Beyond general and basic empathy for wildlife, protecting living, watchable wildlife in Alaska is a major building block toward a sustainable economy Unfortunately, a 19th Century Alaska State Legislature and state administration utterly fail to recognize the seemingly no-brainer benefits of living wildlife in Alaska.

Pick.Click.Give

Looking for the right organization to support with this year’s Pick.Click.Give? Check out Trustees for Alaska, Alaska’s only environmental law firm. For over forty years, they have used the law to fight for the wild spaces in Alaska, and have done a tremendous job protecting our wildlife. We quite frankly would be lost without them. Support them this year by donating a portion of your  PFD here!