Alaska Wildlife Action Plan
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game developed Alaska’s Wildlife Action Plan to provide a common strategic framework for wildlife management, updated species data, and tools to support the conservation of the state’s aquatic and terrestrial wildlife. The original 2006 plan was updated in 2015, approved in 2016, and has been revised to focus on strategic approaches that will guide priorities and projects over the next 10 years. The purpose of the plan is to identify species of greatest conservation need in Alaska, describe their distribution and habitat use, and the key threats to these species. The report prescribes conservation actions for wildlife and natural resource managers to promote healthy sustainable populations, and to preserve wildlife and vital habitat in the future. Climate change is determined to be the preeminent threat to wildlife and their habitat in Alaska, with the greatest concern around the effects of sea ice habitat loss, permafrost melting, and ocean acidification.
Action plans are provided, including needed research, survey, and monitoring efforts, for 74 featured species and species groups. The analysis resulted in qualifying 326 vertebrate taxa as species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) in Alaska. Of the vertebrates, the SGCN list includes 58 fish, 5 amphibians, 192 birds, and 71 mammals. Some of the iconic SGCN in Alaska include the polar bear, harbor seal, killer whale, sea otter, red-throated loon, and great grey owl. A complete list of all SGCN and the reasoning for their inclusion can be found in Appendix A.
The Plan also provides information on Alaska’s 32 eco-regions, including detailed habitat descriptions, the occurrence of key fish and wildlife species, and land use and ownership patterns. Seven key habitats are featured and the major impacts for each of the key habitats were defined. The plan identifies sea ice; tundra; glacially influenced rivers, streams, and fjords; and permafrost associated wetlands as priority habitats because they are diminishing in extent as a result of climate change.
The climate change impacts already occurring in Alaska, and projected to worsen, are detailed in the report including the condition of: sea ice decline, sea level rise, ocean acidification, freshwater availability and temperature, permafrost melting, vegetation change and mismatched phenology. Climate change and the impacts of sea ice and permafrost melt and ocean acidification will have significant consequences for species that depend on sea ice for resting and foraging (ice seals, walrus, polar bear), for marine food chains that are supported by zooplankton (virtually all), and for waterbirds.
The chapter on Conservation Actions outlines these types of actions that are being or might be applied in Alaska - categorized under the themes of: Data Acquisition; Land and Water Protection; Land and Water Management; Species Management; Education and Awareness; Law and Policy; Livelihood, Economic, and Other Incentives; and External Capacity Building.
The original State Wildlife Action Plan was approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in December 2005, which made Alaska eligible for future Congressional appropriations of State Wildlife Grant funds. These funds promote research, monitoring and, ultimately, better long term management of species diversity across the United States. A revision to the Plan is required every 10 years, thus updating current conservation actions and including current conservation research.
Publication Date: December 2016
- Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G)
- Biodiversity and ecosystems
- Fish and fisheries
- Land management and conservation
- Plans (other)
- Policy analysis/recommendations
- Air temperature
- Invasive species and pests
- Ocean acidification
- Permafrost melt
- Precipitation changes
- Water temperatures