Troopers Investigate Suspicious Wolf Kills

MCGRATH: Several animals shot by pilot outside area for aerial predator control

Joel Gay / Anchorage Daily News / April 15, 2004

Alaska State Troopers are investigating the deaths of several wolves in a remote area northwest of Anchorage that appear to have been killed illegally by a private pilot who shot the animals from the air or shortly after landing.

A trooper with the Alaska Bureau of Wildlife Enforcement on routine patrol in the Swift River drainage south of McGrath in late March saw suspicious ski-plane tracks near wolf tracks in the snow, said troopers spokesman Greg Wilkinson. A two-day investigation uncovered several wolf-kill sites, he said.

While the wolf hunting season is open in that area until April 30, carcasses found on the ground suggest the wolves were killed in violation of the state's same-day-airborne hunting prohibition. State law forbids hunting most species, including wolves, on the same day the hunter has been airborne. Federal law makes it illegal to hunt any animal from an airplane.

Troopers have identified a subject and seized a Super Cub, but they would not provide any additional information, saying the investigation is incomplete.

While the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is conducting a predator-control program around McGrath, the kill sites are well south of it, Wilkinson said.

The state program, approved by the Alaska Board of Game last fall, seeks to eliminate all the wolves in a 3,300-square-mile area surrounding McGrath to help the moose population rebound. Fish and Game issued permits to several pilot-gunner teams to participate. The permits are valid only within the program area.

To date, 20 of the estimated 40 wolves in the control area have been killed by the pilot-gunner teams, said Toby Boudreau, Fish and Game's biologist in McGrath. Another 11 wolves have been killed by trappers, he said. The trapping season and the wolf-control permits both end April 30.

Daily News reporter Joel Gay can be reached at or at 257-4310

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