State of Alaska attempts to steamroll federal management of National Wildlife Refuge
The following is a statement from Defenders of Wildlife Alaska Program Director Karla Dutton in response to a decision by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to pursue predator control on Unimak Island, a unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System:
“This is yet another attempt by the state Department of Fish and Game to ride rough-shod over the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which is not only mandated to manage national wildlife refuges for wildlife diversity, including Unimak Island, but also responsible for overseeing subsistence hunting on this land area as well. The state’s claim to a “sovereign right” over wildlife on this refuge does not change the fact that the federal government has a duty to conduct a full review of the state’s predator control proposal before the program is allowed to proceed.
“Additionally, without a full and conclusive scientifically based caribou census, it is impossible for the state to assess whether predator control is even appropriate in this area. The Fish and Wildlife Service has just such a census currently underway and it would be completely irresponsible for the state to kill wolf packs before the Fish and Wildlife Service finishes that survey. The state has not conducted any surveys of the wolf population on the island. Yet again, the state is making wildlife management decisions based not on sound science but on anecdotal evidence and hear-say.
“Try as they might, the state cannot expect the federal government to abdicate its duty in this remote national wildlife refuge. To do so would not only jeopardize the integrity of the wildlife of Unimak Island and undermine the Fish and Wildlife Service’s obligation to science-based land stewardship, but also set a dangerous precedent of how the state and federal governments work together on these issues.”
Defenders of Wildlife has asked the Fish and Wildlife Service to make its draft environmental analysis of this complex situation available for public comment as soon as possible.
Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come.
Contact(s):Jessica Brand, (202) 772-0239
Karla Dutton, (907) 276-9453