Federal authorities announced Friday that the isolated Alexander Archipelago wolf (Canis lupus ligoni, a subspecies of gray wolf), living solely in southeast Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, may require protection under the Endangered Species Act.
The wolves, which den under western hemlock trees, primarily hunt black-tailed deer which also depend on the hemlock trees to shield them from harsh weather. The wolves are in steep decline in portions of their range due to heavy logging operations. Prince of Wales Island, home to the primary population of wolves, is already crossed by 3,000 miles of logging roads.
The subspecies was considered for listing in the 1990s, but the US Forest Service adopted protective standards in its 1997 Tongass Forest Plan which were expected to protect the wolf population. A petition filed in 2011 by Greenpeace and the Center for Biological Diversity, however, argues that the Forest Service’s implementation of the plan is inadequate.
A recent study by David K. Person, a wildlife scientist and expert on wolves and deer in southeast Alaska, says that continued old-growth logging on the island “will likely be the collapse of a sustainable and resilient predator-prey ecological community.”
Original article is available here.
Person, D. K. and B. D. Logan. 2012. A spatial analysis of wolf harvest and harvest risk on Prince of Wales and associated islands, Southeast Alaska. Final wildlife research report, ADF&G/DWC/WRR-2012-06. Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Juneau,