Caribou controversy

Judge denies Alaska request to kill predator wolves

A federal judge denied Alaska state officials permission earlier this month to launch an aerial wolf hunt on an Aleutian Islands wildlife refuge in an effort to protect its declining caribou population, according to the Los Angeles Times.

U.S. District Judge H. Russel Holland ruled that federal wildlife officials are allowed the time necessary to determine reasons for the declining caribou population—as well as how to best deal with predators including wolves—before a measure such as an aerial wolf hunt can be considered.

However, Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game has claimed that the caribou population on Unimak Island—the easternmost island in the Aleutians—has declined from 1,200 in 2003 to 300 in 2009, and could completely disappear if wolves have access to this season’s caribou calves.

The legal battle between Alaska and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began a few years ago after federal wildlife officials said they would press trespassing charges on Alaskan game hunters who entered the refuge to kill wolves themselves.