For the first time in more than 20 years, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is planning to shoot wolves from helicopters as part of its statewide predator control program.
The Alaska Board of Game late Thursday approved a plan that calls for department staff to shoot approximately 25 wolves from a helicopter on the southern Alaska Peninsula to help save the Southern Alaska Peninsula Caribou Herd, which has dropped from a high of 10,000 caribou in 1983 to a current population of 600 animals.
"We have a chance to rescue an important caribou herd before it disappears, and we need to do it very soon," board chairman Cliff Judkins said during debate on the proposal. "If we don't act now, this herd could disappear."
While the Game Board has approved the use of helicopters for other predator control plans, the state has not employed the practice of having snipers kill wolves from helicopters since the mid-1980s, according to department spokeswoman Cathie Harms.