|FAIRBANKS -- With the quota of 640 caribou killed, the federal subsistence caribou hunt of the Fortymile herd will close at 11:59 p.m. tonight.
The federal hunt is conducted under a joint permit with the state.
The state portion of the permit hunt that includes land accessible from the Steese and Taylor highways closed Aug. 12.
Still open is the state hunt in Zone 2, a roadless area in state game management units 20B, 20D, 20E and 25C. There is no federal season for caribou in units 20B and 20D.
A winter federal subsistence season, with a quota of 40 caribou, opens Nov. 1.
State biologists are trying to increase the struggling Fortymile herd beyond its current size of about 39,000 animals. The herd has been the focus of a recovery plan for years.
It is believed to have numbered as many as 500,000 caribou during the 1920s and at least 50,000 during the 1950s and early 1960s before plummeting to a low of about 5,000 by the early 1970s. The herd grew to about 23,000 over the next 20 years and remained at that level until the recovery plan was put in place.
That plan intensified wolf trapping and hunting as well as sterilizing breeding wolves. The herd grew to 43,000 by 2003 and has remained near that number since.
Last winter, a predator control effort had the state shooting wolves from helicopters in an effort to boost caribou numbers. The goal was to shoot 150 wolves but only about a quarter of that number were taken.
The wolf shooting aims to boost Fortymile caribou numbers eventually to 50,000-100,000 animals.
Regional Fish and Game supervisor David James said in March the state planned to spend about $100,000 on the aerial hunt, hoping to kill 300 of the 400 wolves in the area.