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Game Board rejects Denali wolves buffer zone

Associated Press Modified: September 19, 2012 at 7:01 pm •  Published: September 19, 2012

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Wolves that roam onto state land from Denali National Park and Preserve will not be protected from trappers, the Alaska Board of Game has decided.

Board members confirmed Wednesday they have rejected a petition calling for an emergency order to ban wolf trapping and hunting east of the park. Six board members rejected the petition; one was not available.

Board member Teresa Sager Albaugh of Tok noted state policy that says emergency findings must be held to a minimum. An emergency is an unforeseen, unexpected event that threatens a game resource.

"I think it's safe to say that the petition was rejected because it failed to meet the emergency standards set forth in regulation," she said by email.

The petition submitted two weeks ago by the Alaska Wildlife Alliance, the Alaska Center for the Environment, Defenders of Wildlife, National Parks Conservation Association and six individuals said killing of wolves outside park boundaries is harming the visitor experience inside the park.

The pack most frequently viewed lost a breeding female to a trapper outside the park in April, according to the groups. Without new pups, the pack may have dispersed, they said.

Alaska Wildlife Alliance President Tina Brown said it's a shame that a small group of gubernatorial appointees is allowed to determine the fate of a treasured national resource.

"The chances of seeing wolves in Denali National Park have decreased, and in the future, without protection, it seems that they will continue to decrease," Brown said. "The Board of Game is not recognizing this, or if they are recognizing this, they're disregarding the over 400,000 visitors that go to Denali National Park annually, and this includes Alaskans."

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