The state of Alaska wants to go ahead with its aerial predator control program even if it means suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The program is in place in locations across Alaska but this year would be the “first time in recent history” that the program is run inside a national refuge – the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge – on Unimak Island, the eastern-most island in the Aleutian chain.
Last week, according to Yahoo News, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced it would begin shooting some wolves to protect caribou calving grounds. The feds told state officials that killing the wolves without a special use permit would be considered “a trespass on the refuge” and referred to the U.S. Attorney, which the state in turn interpreted as federal officials blocking the program.
The state is seeking a court order allowing them to kill seven wolves while the fight continues. The lawsuit names the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, its Acting Director Rowan Gould, and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. It claims that Fish and is violating the Alaska National Interests Lands Conservation Act, the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act, the Administrative Procedure Act and a memorandum of understanding with the state.
The state says “the killing of wolves is imperative to protect this year’s caribou calves” but the federal agency says it is required by law to follow a certain process. Bruce Woods, a representative of the federal agency told AP earlier this week that “Any significant action conducted on a wildlife refuge in Alaska requires a special use permit by the service.”
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