LISTEN TO THE AUDIO VERSION
Photo Denali Wolf. Image-National Park Service
By Michael Mason
Juneau – Today, the Alaska House of Representatives approved legislation to prohibit wolf hunting and trapping in two areas adjacent to Denali National Park and Preserve. House Bill 105, sponsored by Representative Andy Josephson (D-Anchorage), seeks to ensure healthy wolf populations so that park visitors can see wolves in the wild.
“Denali National Park managers report that visitors consistently want to see wolves. While the park has long been among the best places on earth to catch a glimpse of a wolf, in recent years wolf sightings have declined dramatically,” said Rep. Josephson. “Creating areas off-limits to hunting and trapping will result in more successful viewing opportunities.”
The Denali National Park and Preserve is a major tourist destination that hosts more than half a million visitors a year. Tourism in the park provides a significant boost to the local and statewide economies.
Previous buffer zones have protected wildlife populations adjacent to the park from hunting and trapping. The Alaska Board of Game created a buffer zone on the park’s eastern boundary in 2000, but eliminated it in 2010. That year, 45 percent of park visitors reported seeing a wolf, but just four years later only six percent reported a wolf sighting.
“Denali National Park and Preserve is an important tourism asset, and a big part of the attraction of the park is the ability to see wildlife in their natural habitat,” said Rep. Josephson. “This bill will help make sure that future generations of Alaskans and visitors can be as moved as I have been by seeing these amazing animals in this unforgettable place.”
House Bill 105 passed the Alaska House of Representatives today by a vote of 22-18. The bill will now be sent to the Alaska State Senate for consideration.