The state of Alaska is continuing its war on wildlife -- by trying to kill wolves from helicopters. Remote Unimak Island, in Alaska's Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, is home to the Aleutian Island chain’s only naturally occurring populations of brown bears, wolves and caribou. Caribou numbers on the island have varied drastically over the past 100 years and have recently plummeted.
Despite the fact that there is no evidence that wolves are responsible for the recent drop in caribou numbers -- which is just as likely related in part to unsustainable state-permitted trophy hunting of caribou on the island -- the state is using the drop in numbers as an excuse to kill wolves in the name of "wildlife management."
Nearly all of Unimak Island is federally designated wilderness area. A state-run and federally permitted aerial hunt in a wilderness area is unprecedented. Federal biologists admit that very little is known about either the caribou herd or the wolves on Unimak Island. It would be the height of irresponsibility to blindly massacre the wolves in the face of so much uncertainty.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency within the Department of the Interior that manages the refuge, initially refused to allow the aerial wolf hunt but now appears to be caving to state pressure. The Service has completed an environmental assessment that concludes that the state’s proposal for “predator control management on the Refuge is necessary.”
The Service is accepting comments on its environmental assessment until Jan. 31. Please act now to tell the agency it must not allow the massacre of wolves on this federal refuge and wilderness area.
- Unimak Caribou Herd Environmental Assessment
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Unimak Caribou Herd Environmental Assessment. I urge you to adopt Alternative A, the No Action Alternative, which would not allow the state of Alaska to kill wolves on Unimak Island. The Unimak caribou herd's population numbers have fluctuated greatly over the years, and there is no evidence to show that wolves are to blame for the current decline. There is also no evidence to show that killing wolves will increase the island's caribou numbers. The federal government must not support Alaska's foolhardy wolf massacre in a federal refuge and wilderness area.
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