State sets 31-day wolf season on Prince of Wales Island

The wolf hunting and trapping season for Prince of Wales Island will be the same as last year — Nov. 15 to Dec. 15 — though a number of individuals who trap wolves in the area criticized the Alaska Department of Fish and Game last week for its wolf management decisions.

The department announced the limited season last Friday, just two days after a teleconference to review with the public wolf population estimates and harvest levels.

Several people described seeing more wolves than deer in the area, arguing that a longer season and higher harvest numbers are needed to better balance the area’s deer and wolf populations. Several also criticized last year’s season as too short, and said more data is needed on the number of wolves on Prince of Wales Island to make solid management decisions.

The wolf season is unchanged from last year on the mainland behind Wrangell, and in the game management unit of Wrangell, Etolin, Zarembo, Mitkof, Kupreanof and Kuiu islands. The season opened in August and will run until early spring.

The Department of Fish and Game anticipates a take of about 81 wolves during the 31-day season on Prince of Wales, based upon harvest rates that have occurred since the current management strategy was established in 2019.

Fish and Game will monitor the harvest during the season, “but believes that a 31-day season will result in a sustainable level of harvest,” according to the joint announcement between the department and U.S. Forest Service.

Most wolves in the area are taken by trappers.

The current management strategy established by the Alaska Board of Game seeks to manage the Game Management Unit 2 wolf population to achieve a “fall population range of 150 to 200 wolves.” Fish and Game estimated that the management unit’s wolf population in fall 2021 was in a range of 216 to 332 wolves, below the population estimate for 2019 and 2020.

Last Friday’s announcement said last year’s wolf count was hampered by deep snow that arrived in late November and inhibited access to some areas. “Fewer samples were collected in fall 2021 than in 2020, and that could account for the lower 2021 (population) estimate,” the announcement said.

The 2022 hunt is based on 2021 population estimates.

 

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