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Wildlife Action Plan
About the Plan

Alaska's Wildlife Action Plan provides a strategic framework and set of management tools that enables implementation of a long-term holistic conservation approach for all aquatic and terrestrial species. The Plan identifies wildlife conservation priorities, valuable resources for biological information, and guidance for use of conservation funds. For a quick overview, see the Fact Sheet.

The Plan document was finalized in August 2005. Its approval by the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in December 2005 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.

Why was it Developed?

The Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G) serves as the main coordinator of Alaska’s Wildlife Action Plan. Implementing such a plan fits in well with the department’s legal mandate to protect and conserve the state's natural resources, including all wildlife species.

The goal of Alaska’s Wildlife Action Plan is to conserve the full diversity of Alaska’s wildlife resources, focusing on those species with the greatest conservation needs. A key intent of the Plan is to coordinate and integrate new conservation actions and strategies with Alaska’s existing wildlife management and research programs, building upon the demonstrated successes of these earlier efforts.

In this way, the Plan functions as a blueprint for an overall conservation approach, one that sustains the full diversity of Alaska’s wildlife. Via this blueprint, Alaska can foster broad strategies that promote wildlife conservation, while furthering responsible development and addressing the needs of a growing human population. It also helps Alaska prevent species listings under the federal and state Endangered Species acts. This in turn reduces the potential for federal oversight of listed species and their habitats.

This action plan:

  • identifies and recommends actions to improve habitat conditions and population status of species with the greatest conservation need, i.e., those species with small or declining populations or other characteristics that make them vulnerable;
  • recommends actions that will help to keep common species common;
  • identifies and prioritizes conservation actions, research and survey needs, and long-term monitoring needed to gage the success of conservation efforts;
  • complements other conservation strategies, funding sources, planning initiatives, and legally mandated activities;
  • incorporates public participation to provide an opportunity for all conservation partners and Alaska residents to influence the future of resource management;
  • provides guidance for use of conservation funding like State Wildlife Grant funds; and
  • provides a clear process for periodic Plan review and revision, to address changing conditions and to integrate new information as it becomes available.

Who Helped?

Alaska's Wildlife Action Plan was developed with input from a broad array of participants. This included representatives of state and federal natural resource agencies, university and non-governmental organizations, hunting and other conservation groups, and members of the general public.

Not surprisingly, the planning effort relied heavily on the experience and best professional judgment of scientists and other Alaskans most knowledgeable about particular species and habitats. In the case of the scientists, these were often the same individuals, or individuals representing the same agencies, that had authored species-specific recovery or management plans.

The most active early partners in the planning process were the Alaska Natural Heritage Program at the University of Alaska Anchorage, The Nature Conservancy, Audubon Alaska, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) Federal Assistance Office. Drawing on their previous experiences with conservation planning efforts in Alaska, these organizations provided suggestions about process and draft products. The Alaska Natural Heritage Program was asked to assemble and summarize species information. The Nature Conservancy staff provided descriptions, maps, and photos for the 32 ecoregions in Alaska. The USFWS provided substantial support in the form of travel costs and staff participation at the expert team meetings.

Staff from many agencies and organizations helped write sections of the Plan. Biologists within ADF&G helped identify species of concern, served on expert groups, wrote habitat descriptions and various other sections, and reviewed portions of early drafts.

What is its Value to Alaska?

  • Value to wildlife
  • Value to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game
  • Value to conservation partners
  • Value to residents, visitors, and future generations

Value to Wildlife

Fulfilling conservation needs identified in the Wildlife Action Plan benefits Alaska’s wildlife in numerous ways.

  • Status of species with declining populations will improve, making it unnecessary to include them on lists of State and federally threatened or endangered species.
  • The Plan can generate additional support for ongoing efforts to restore currently listed species.
  • Species presently considered common will benefit from the conservation of all of the varied habitats that cover Alaska’s diverse landscape.
  • Reducing the rate of occurrence of invasive species introductions and establishments, landscape fragmentation, habitat conversion and other broad-scale threats will benefit many species and their habitats.

Value to the Alaska Department of Fish & Game

As the designated trustee of the State's natural resources, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game holds all wildlife -- including mussels, snails, crayfish, insects, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals -- in trust for the benefit of the people of Alaska. In keeping with the agency’s mission, ADF&G programs reflect the broad range of benefits and values that people desire from natural resources. The Plan is an important tool in helping ADF&G achieve its mission – a tool designed to be updated at appropriate intervals, and integrated as appropriate into the agency’s many public trust responsibilities and management efforts.

Value to Conservation Partners

Perhaps the most important achievement of the Wildlife Action Plan is the improved communication and cooperation between conservation partners. We expect that will lead to more effective management of Alaska’s lands, waters, and wildlife resources.

The Plan identifies priorities to help guide use of funds for addressing the needs of species, and landscapes they use. It also creates a collaborative framework for wildlife conservation that addresses the needs of all wildlife in the State, with an ultimate objective of protecting biodiversity. Coordination within this framework will reduce overlap between conservation partners, resulting in more effective and efficient conservation efforts. Ultimately, successful holistic conservation of wildlife can only be achieved through partnerships between public agencies, private organizations, and private individuals.

Value to Residents, Visitors & Future Generations

As this Plan is implemented, Alaska’s citizens and visitors will benefit from: enhanced wildlife-related recreational activities and experiences, such as bird watching, hunting and fishing; improved quality of life by having diverse and sustainable wildlife and habitats; and economic rewards associated with increased opportunities for nature tourism. Implementing this action Plan will also help ensure sound management of our ecosystems, resulting in healthy and functioning natural systems that provide important services such as flood control, nutrient and contaminant processing, and soil maintenance.

This Plan is expected to improve the allocation and use of Federal and State funds. Conservation and restoration of threatened and endangered species tends to be an expensive and controversial process. Actions recommended in this Plan can help reduce these costs to Alaska’s taxpayers by improving the status of species listed as threatened or endangered, assisting species in decline before they are listed, addressing potential threats before they become severe, and leveraging State of Alaska dollars through partnerships with non-State entities.

How is the Information Organized?

Alaska’s Wildlife Action Plan is a large, complex document. To facilitate its use, sections were separated into individual PDF files that can be accessed from the View the Plan tab. The main document contains information about the Plan’s development, including an overview of the state, and detailed information about Alaska’s 32 ecoregions.

Alaska’s species of greatest conservation need list can be found in Appendix 7. In addition, Appendix 4 contains detailed conservation actions for species and species groups featured in the Plan, along with goals for their conservation and targets or milestones to be accomplished. The appendix typically also includes an introduction to each taxonomic group.

Key actions are summarized in the executive summary, as well as in Section VII, Primary Recommendations.

Documents Contributing to Plan Development

  • Federal "Eight Required Elements" (PDF 47 kB)
  • Species Status Reports
    As part of Plan development, the Alaska Natural Heritage Program (AKNHP) prepared detailed information on more than 40 of the Plan’s featured species. They wrote about distribution and abundance, threats, level of protection, conservation status, and potential conservation and management actions for each of these species. Since that time, AKNHP has continued to update information on their website about these and many other species.