Alexander Archipelago wolves are a subspecies of grey wolf unique to Alaska’s panhandle. (Courtesy photo by Robin Silver/Center for Biological Diversity)

Conservationists are renewing their push for federal protections for Southeast Alaska’s grey wolf population.

Earlier this month, the Center for Biological Diversity put the Alaska Department of Fish and Game on notice that it will formally ask the federal government to list and designate critical habitat of Alexander Archipelago wolves.

The group filed a petition in 2011 to protect the subspecies of grey wolf.

Shaye Wolf, an Oakland, California-based staff scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity notes that petition was rejected in 2016.

“And since that time, threats to wolves in Southeast Alaska have only worsened,” she told CoastAlaska on Monday. “And so, we are asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service again to protect these rare and threatened wolves under the Endangered Species Act.”

State and federal managers relaxed trapping regulations over the winter that led to an unprecedented number of wolves taken on and around Prince of Wales Island.

Management of Southeast Alaska’s wolves has been controversial for decades. Fish and Wildlife also denied a prior listing petition in the 1990s. Many resident hunters insist the wolf population is under-counted and blame predators for the decline of the deer population.

Conservationists point to the legacy of clear cut logging for the loss of deer habitat.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the agency will review the petition when it’s received. The agency declined further comment.

The petition is expected to be filed in mid-July. That will automatically trigger a 90-day process in which the federal agency will respond.

Depending on how that goes, the question over listing the species could end up in the courts.