Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve was established under the Alaska Natural Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) of 1980 which also stipulated that subsistence hunting would continue in the newly established preserve. Most of the large ungulate (hooved animals) that occur within Wrangells are hunted annually.
Caribou herds are surveyed as part of an international partnership (one herd's range is in both Canada and the US). The Mentasta herd is a small caribou herd that uses the slopes of Mount Sanford and Mount Drum in northern Wrangells. Small population size, low recruitment, high predation, and poaching all pose problems for the Mentasta herd. This herd has been declining so each year the park attempts to complete a population count during the post-calf aggregations of the caribou. Caribou herds in Chisana are part of the subsistence hunt, Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologists collect population data and set harvest quotas.
Moose are a major prey species for predators (wolves ( Canis lupus) and bears). They are hunted under state and federal hunting regulations and monitored by the park and Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologists. The park has populations in all areas including a small population in the Malaspina Forelands and in the coastal zones.
Other game species include Dall sheep ( Ovis dalli ), mountain goat ( Oreamnos americanus ), and introduced herd of bison ( Bison bison ). These are all populations monitored in connection with subsistence hunts. Furbears have had little attention paid to them in the park and little is known of their population status. Species that occur in the park include lynx ( Lynx canadensis ), wolverine (Gulo gulo), river otter ( Lontra canadensis ), Marten ( Martes americana ), weasels, mink, and ermine ( Mustela nivslid, M. vison, and M. erminea ) and red fox ( Vulpes vulpes ).
There are three species of bats that occur in the general area. Little brown bats ( Myotis lucifugus ) occur south of the Yukon River, Silver haired ( Lasionycteris noctivagans )and Keen's bat ( Myotis keenii ) occur in the southeast and may only occur in the Yakutat area. Little is known about the bats in Wrangell yet these are migratory species that may be affected in other parts of their ranges.
Three murid rodents (northern red-backed vole, meadow vole, and tundra vole) and a shrew (montane shrew) were the most frequently sampled species (309, 204, 191, and 91 specimens, respectively), comprising over 80% of all specimens collected. The discovery of the tiny shrew ( Sorex yukonicus ) at Carden Hills and Braye Lakes constitutes a new species for Wrangells and significantly expands the known range of the species. A recent study found the first documentation of the water shrew ( Sorex palustris ) and tundra shrew ( S. tundrensis ) in Wrangells, and provides new information on several other species, including meadow vole ( Microtus pennsylvanicus ), long-tailed vole ( M. longicaudus ), brown lemming ( Lemmus trimucronatus ), northern bog lemming ( Synaptomys borealis ), and singing vole ( Microtus miurus ). The findings from a recent inventory bring the total number of documented small mammal species in Wrangells to 21 of 26 potential species or about 81% coverage.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service list 11 endangered and threatened species for the state of Alaska. The only federally listed mammals that could occur within Wrangell are marine mammals with jurisdictional responsibilities with National Marine Fisheries (NMF) and National Marine Sanctuaries (NMS). The federally threatened eastern population of Steller sea-lion ( Eumetopias jubatus ) can occur in the Yakutat district of the park in Icy Bay along the Malaspina Forelands. Recent increases in cruise ship activity in Icy Bay suggests that Wrangells will need to examine population trends of the Stellar's sea lions in light of this increasing activity.