U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan expressed his satisfaction today over a decision made by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to not list the Alexander Archipelago wolf as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act.
The announcement comes after Sen. Sullivan wrote to USFWS Director Martha Williams, voicing his strong opposition to the potential listing.
The potential listing of the Alexander Archipelago wolf as an endangered species had raised concerns among community leaders and experts associated with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. It was widely feared that such a listing could have a detrimental impact on the local economy and community interests.
The February 2022 gray wolves in much of the Lower 48 western states were put back on the endangered list by a U.S. District Court judge, in response to actions by environmental groups objecting to their removal from the list.
“I want to commend the Fish & Wildlife Service for listening to Alaskans and abiding by the clear science in their decision not to list the Alexander Archipelago wolf as an endangered species,” Sen. Sullivan said. “This decision is a victory for science-based decision-making and local consultation, and a defeat for the Lower 48 radical environmental groups and their relentless war against our state and opportunities for our people. I wish more decisions coming from the Biden Interior Department prioritized science over politics and heeded the voices of people who actually feel the impacts of these decisions. Alaskans, like all Americans, deserve the right to access their lands and have jobs and economic opportunities,” the senator said.
Alexander Archipelago wolf is a subspecies of North American gray wolf. Found in Southeast Alaska and British Columbia’s coastal mainland and larger island complexes, the wolf is smaller and darker in color than wolves on the mainland. The Fish and Wildlife Service received a request from environmental groups to list it as endangered.
To determine if listing was warranted, the agency conducted a species status assessment using the best available Western science and traditional ecological knowledge of Southeast Alaska Indigenous peoples,” the agency said.
“The extensive review process found that Alexander Archipelago wolf is not currently endangered throughout its range, nor likely to become so within the foreseeable future,” the agency said.
However, leading up to the push to try to get it listed, Scientific American boldly wrote in 2015 that the subspecies of wolf was nearing extinction, in a story headlined, “Alaska’s Rare Alexander Archipelago Wolves Nearly Wiped Out in 1 Year.”
“These are dire times for one of the world’s rarest wolf subspecies. Over the past year one of the most important populations* of Alaska’s Alexander Archipelago wolves (Canis lupus ligoni) has plummeted from 221 to as low as 60, according to data released last week. As a result, conservation groups—which have sought to protect the rare wolves under the Endangered Species Act for years—are now calling for emergency steps to preserve the few wolves that remain,” the science magazine wrote in a story that seems to have been placed by the Center for Biological Diversity, a group keen to put the wolf on the endangered list.
“Named after the southeastern Alaskan island chain, Alexander Archipelago wolves are smaller and lighter than other North American wolves, from which they have been isolated for millennia. They rely almost exclusively on a single prey species, Sitka black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus sitkensis), although the wolves have been known to eat salmon a few months out of the year. Both the wolves and the deer have suffered over the past few decades as logging has eroded their island habitats,” the science-themed magazine wrote.
“Unfortunately for both species, the humans living and working on Prince of Wales Island and other remote islands also like to hunt deer. ‘I think the big problem is that some hunters see wolves as competitors for deer,’ says Rebecca Noblin, Alaska director for the Center for Biological Diversity. ‘Because old-growth logging has reduced habitat for Sitka black-tailed deer, wolves and humans are competing for fewer deer,'” Scientific American said.