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Alaska plans wolf cull to protect Unimak Island caribou

Concerned that wolf predation may imperil the remaining caribou on Unimak Island, managers with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said Thursday afternoon they'll launch predator control in less than two weeks on the largest island in the Aleutians, preferably by helicopter.

"The situation constitutes a dire conservation emergency," Fish and Game Commissioner Denby Lloyd said in a letter sent to Rowan Gould, acting director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. "Immediate action is necessary."

Missing from the announcement at U.S. Fish and Game headquarters was any representation by Fish & Wildlife, on whose land wolf control would take place. Unimak Island, the only island in the Aleutians with a native caribou population, is dominated by the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. Federal managers are in the midst of making an environmental assessment of reducing wolf numbers.

"I've heard nothing about a response today," said Bruce Woods, a spokesman for Fish & Wildlife in Alaska. "We're conducting a review and continue that process."

But the state intends to act.

"We will do something by about June 1," said Pat Valkenberg of Fish and Game. "We are the primary wildlife managers on all federal lands in the state."

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