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State postpones aerial predator control program around Interior Alaska villages

Alaska Dispatch

An aerial predator control program planned for two rural villages northwest of Fairbanks has been postponed, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game cited “legal issues” and lack of snow as the reasons why wildlife biologists delayed shooting around 50 wolves from helicopters in the 1,360-square-mile area around Allakaket and Alatna.

Department spokeswoman Cathie Harms told the News-Miner “Conditions are not ideal for tracking; the light is fading every day; and the legal issues we’re dealing with still haven’t been resolved.”

The program has been pushed back until February.

The planned aerial predator control program is the first part of a five-year program approved by the Alaska Board of Game in March to eradicate wolves completely from the area.

“Department staff would be aiming to take 35 to 50 wolves in the first year and probably 15 to 20 every year after that,” Harms said. “We hope to have the whole program finished by 2017.” Harms told the News-Miner.

The program is supposed to improve survival rates of calf and yearling moose so there are more moose for people to hunt. The News-Miner notes that studies show bears kill the most moose calves in the area, but since locals use bears as an alternative food source, they have asked the department to eradicate wolves, instead.

Read more at the News-Miner.