Prince of Wales Island hunters blame wolves, logging for poor deer season

JUNEAU, Alaska — Hunters on Prince of Wales Island said this year’s deer hunting season was the worst in recent memory due to logging and a resurgence of wolves.

Mike Douville, who serves on the regional advisory council that makes subsistence recommendations, said finding fewer deer on the island is affecting people’s livelihood, Alaska’s Energy Desk reported Monday.

“This is rural Alaska. It’s bush Alaska,” Douville said. “We don’t like to buy meat. It’s eight or nine bucks a pound.”

Douville is a proponent of killing wolves to keep deer numbers where they need to be, but not everyone agrees.

State and federal efforts to protect the island’s Alexander Archipelago wolves are underway. Conservation groups have unsuccessfully petitioned multiple times to place the subspecies on the Endangered Species Act.

In 2011, it was estimated there were about 89 wolves on the island, which is less than half the number of wolves on Prince of Wales 20 years prior. Last year’s estimates, however, suggested there were 231 wolves.

“I don’t think anybody here is interested in wiping them out,” Douville said. “We’ve always got one or two that might think that way. But for the most part, they’re OK with wolves. Just not so many.”

As far as logging goes, Douville said when he was young the island was filled with big trees. He said the first logging camps were just getting started in the 1960s.

“The island was pristine. There was no clear cuts on it,” he said. “So I’ve watched it turn from that into what it is today.”

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