Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Letter: Wolf conservation is important for Alaska

Posted: May 25, 2016 
I was pleased to read the May 19 My Turn in the Empire called “Demise of Denali’s East Fork Wolf Family a Loss to Science, Tourism, Alaska.” My family and I have long dreamed of traveling to Denali to see the abundant wildlife, particularly charismatic carnivores like wolves and grizzlies.
As we have begun to plan our trip, we have followed the decline of park wolves with dismay and have heard anecdotally from other tourists that it is more difficult to see wolves in recent years. These personal stories are supported by a recent scientific study, published just last month in the journal PLOS ONE. This study found that wolf sightings were twice as high at Denali when a buffer zone was in place. This finding is backed up by the My Turn article, which indicates that only about 5 percent of tourists to the park will be fortunate enough to see wolves.

I understand that Alaska has many industries but certainly tourism is an important one. Allowing hunting of park wolves is like killing the golden goose! I sincerely hope that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game will see the importance of these animals — not just scientifically and ecologically — but as drivers of the tourism industry. I hope that a protected corridor can be put in place like the permanent conservation easement suggested in the article. Thank you for publishing this and giving tourists and scientists a voice in Alaska.

Michelle MacKenzie,
San Carlos, California