Rare Southeast Alaska Wolf Is One Step Closer To Endangered Species Protection After Being Threatened By Forest Clearcutting & Trapping

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced yesterday that Alexander Archipelago wolves in Southeast Alaska may warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act and started a year-long status review. The decision comes in response to a July 2020 petition from the Center for Biological Diversity, Alaska Rainforest Defenders, and Defenders of Wildlife.

The conclusion to consider protecting Alexander Archipelago wolves was based on logging and road development, illegal and legal trapping and hunting, the effects of climate change, and loss of genetic diversity and inbreeding.

“These beautiful wolves are threatened with extinction because of increased trapping and rampant logging in their forest home,” said Ted Zukoski, a senior attorney at the Center, in a statement. “They are vital to the health of the Tongass forest ecosystem, but they live in a sacrifice zone for timber mills. If these wolves are going to survive, they urgently need Endangered Species Act’s protection, not traps and chainsaws.”

Legal trapping recently killed more than half the wolves in one key population on Prince of Wales Island in Southeast Alaska. The Trump administration opened hundreds of thousands of acres of the wolves forest habitat to clearcut logging. Genetic evidence indicates the Prince of Wales population is in danger from high levels of inbreeding.

“Threats to the continued existence of these unique wolves have been worsening for many years, in terms both of habitat loss and mismanagement by the state and federal agencies that are responsible for maintaining the populations at a healthy size,” stated Larry Edwards of Alaska Rainforest Defenders.

As noted by Nicole Whittington-Evans, Alaska program director for Defenders of Wildlife, wolves and other species are dependent on intact old-growth habitat.

“Protecting our rare ancient forests is critical to conserving biodiversity and an important climate change mitigation strategy,” concluded Whittington-Evans.

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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