F&G Completes Predator Control Programs

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Two predator control programs designed to rebuild depleted moose populations will end for the season on April 30. The programs, one near McGrath and one in the Nelchina Basin, began last year and are expected to resume next fall or winter in order to meet management goals set by the Alaska Board of Game.

The control programs are conducted through a permit system closely monitored by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G). Qualified pilot/shooter teams were selected in order to reduce wolf numbers as humanely and effectively as possible. These efforts did not employ state aircraft or state employees, are in no way affiliated with sport hunting, and were implemented in localized areas for the specific purpose of rebuilding depleted game populations.

“We are pleased with the results of the programs this season,” said Kevin C. Duffy, Commissioner, ADF&G. “Through the diligence of our staff in administering the programs established by the Board of Game, along with the localized control efforts to reduce predation, we are a step closer to providing adequate moose harvests in areas where Alaskans depend on moose for food.”

Over the past decade, moose populations and harvest opportunities around McGrath and Nelchina have declined significantly. Moose populations have not increased even though hunting has been reduced substantially. The state’s predator management programs are designed to reduce predation and allow moose numbers to increase in order to allow for greater human harvests, in addition to providing for wolves, bears, and other predators.

The land-and-shoot wolf control program in the Nelchina Basin began January 22 with a goal of taking 135 to 150 wolves in addition to normal trapping and hunting efforts. Thirty four control permits were issued and a total of 127 wolves had been reported taken as of Tuesday.

The goal in the McGrath area was to reduce wolf predation to the greatest extent possible in a small management area through a combination of aerial control and normal hunting and trapping. Aerial control was authorized in and around the 528-square mile “Experimental Micro Management Area,” or EMMA, in order to remove the wolves that prey on moose there. To date, a total of 20 wolves have been taken under the aerial program and approximately 11 wolves have been taken by trappers.

In total, 165 wolves, or about 2 percent of the state’s total estimated wolf population (7,700 to 11,200) have been taken through the predator control program implemented during the last year to rebuild game populations. Wolves are abundant in Alaska and are neither threatened nor endangered.