Some want wolf hunting ban near Denali National Park

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — A group of Alaska advocates is petitioning for an end to wolf hunting near Denali National Park, a report said.

The group of more than 60 concerned residents and advocates is concerned about a decrease in the number of wolf sightings by bus drivers taking tourists on the only road inside the park, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Monday.

The group sent petitions to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game commissioner and the state Board of Game urging the closure of wolf hunting along the Stampede Corridor, just outside the national park’s eastern boundary.

Group members do not assert there is a threat to wolf populations at large, only that packs inhabiting the Denali road corridor are at risk.

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The National Park Service has submitted its own proposal to the game board requesting a partial closure to wolf hunting.

Wolf hunting in the area is scheduled to begin Aug. 10, while trapping season is scheduled to open Nov. 1.

Bill Watkins, a group member and Denali road bus driver, set up a social media page to conduct a survey of park employees from April 27-July 10. Fifteen wolf sightings were recorded.

The survey is “not scientific in any way, shape or form,” but represents a snapshot of wolf viewing, he said.

“We’re the people on the ground,” Watkins said. “This is what we’re seeing — or not seeing in this case.”

Annual park visit revenue can reach up to $800 million, the group said.

Sean Maguire of Alaskans For Wildlife said Denali’s 700,000 yearly visitors want to see three things.

“They want to see bears, they want to see wolves, they want to see mountains,” Maguire said.

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com

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