The Department of Fish and Game is being criticized over shooting wolves from the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve near the community of Eagle.
Under its aerial wolf control program, Fish and Game killed an entire wolf pack of four wolves from the preserve Wednesday.
Two of the wolves killed were collared by the National Park Service and part of a 16-year-long scientific study.
Officials with the Department called the wolf control program a success, but did admit to "mistakenly" shooting the collared wolves.
Fish and Game says a possible collar malfunction or "other problems" prevented staff from identifying the collared wolves.
According to the Department an investigation is underway to find out how this happened.
With a fresh blanket of snow, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game took to airplanes and helicopters Tuesday to track and shoot wolves in the upper Yukon-Tanana region near Tok.
Only 22 wolves have been killed by private pilot-gunner teams with permits from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to shoot wolves from the air or to land and shoot them in five different predator control areas of the state.
That compares to 167 wolves taken by aerial gunners last year.
In the last seven years, more than 900 wolves have been taken as part of the state’s predator control program. That’s an average of about 125 per year.
Department spokeswoman Cathie Harms summed up the big drop in harvest between last winter and this winter in two words.
“No snow,” she said.
Permits allow aerial teams to continue killing wolves until April 30, if snow conditions allow for landing planes to retrieve wolf carcasses.
We've all had the same thoughts, Wolfy. In fact, somtimes it hurts them as in causes their death and that of their packmates. Do a forum search on Judas Wolf to learn more.
The National Park Service wants to close the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve to wolf hunting this season.
It's calling for the emergency closure days after the state Department of Fish and Game killed a pack including collared wolves that are considered part of the preserve.
The Park Service wants to close all sport hunting and trapping in the preserve. It says wolf numbers dropped more than ever before this winter.
"Normally there is a drop off from fall to spring, and that ranges anywhere from 11to 37 percent. We're now seeing a higher reduction upwards of 40 percent or more, and that includes those wolves that were taken last week by Fish and Game," said John Quinley with the National Park Service.