Alaska’s Unimak Wildlife to be Managed by Scientific Understanding of Caribou Decline

Killing wolves would sacrifice long-term understanding and solutions for short-term gain

  • The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has decided to take no action in response to the state’s proposal to kill wolves in on Unimak Island, a unit of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge.
  • Defenders of Wildlife supports this decision. Neither the science nor the FWS’s policies could justify enacting the state’s proposal to kill wolves. The FWS has opted instead to devote further study into understanding the underlying causes of the Unimak caribou decline.  
  • The FWS’s measured approach is far more likely to produce a healthy ecosystem balance on Unimak Island in the long term, thereby benefiting subsistence hunters and all others who expect healthy wildlife populations on the national wildlife refuge. Killing wolves without understanding the cause of caribou decline ignores one of the primary purposes of this national wildlife refuge: conserving wildlife and habitats and their natural diversity.

Pack of Gray Wolves, Alaska

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (March 8, 2011) – The following is a statement from Defenders of Wildlife Alaska Representative Theresa Fiorino in response to the Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision:

 “This is a good decision for Alaska. When wildlife management is guided by sound science, everybody wins in the long term.

 “By taking this measured, comprehensive view, we are far more likely to solve long-term conservation challenges. Scientists know that meddling in the complex balance between predators and prey can actually exacerbate problems where they do exist, especially on island ecosystems like Unimak.

 “Each time wolves are killed prematurely, before scientists can determine whether a decline in moose or caribou is part of a natural cycle, we deny ourselves the ability to truly understand the heart of the problem. Not only does this do a disservice to wildlife, but also to the Alaskans who rely on some wildlife for subsistence. Thankfully, this way forward should provide answers and, crucially, avoid creating new problems.”

Thanks in part to the more than 65,000 messages from Defenders supporters, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service won’t target the wolves on Unimak Island.


Defenders of Wildlife provided extensive comments to the FWS on its Environmental Assessment, requesting more time for a full Environmental Impact Statement to be conducted. Copies are available on request. 

Learn more about Defenders’ work on national wildlife refuges.


Theresa Fiorino (907) 276-9410,

Jessica Brand (202) 772-0239,

11 Responses to “Alaska’s Unimak Wildlife to be Managed by Scientific Understanding of Caribou Decline”

  1. Barbara Bussell

    Please keep up the good work you all are doing to protect the wolves.
    I am doing allI can to protect them, by letting others know about it and also calling my senators,too.

  2. Rhonda Lanier

    I simply cannot believe my eyes!! Finally, after years and years, there is some good news coming out of Alaska regarding wolves. Hopefully, the members of the House and the Senate in the lower 48 will take heed.

  3. Robin Heart

    I love everything you guys are doing and have done, and the articles and the way you share it with us. I also find the fact sheets very interesting and useful. Don’t stop and never change, guys! Your great at what you do!

  4. Robert-J.N

    i wish i could read more news like this-its great news-SAVE THE WOLVES

  5. Jef Wilson

    If you kill Wolves than you deserve to be put in jail

  6. mary goodsell

    Yes Yes!!!!!! OMG! A great win for the wolves! And I just heard that in Montana, the same thing was passed!! Omigosh, am I HAPPY!!!!!!! It makes me teary-eyed!!!!

  7. Natalie Whitlow

    I’ve never felt so important in my entire life! I’m actually being heard for the wolves. We the people, are the voices for the wolves! Now, all we need to do is to use our voices!! Who’s with me?!

  8. Jane Ponciano

    Amazing!!Please keep up the great work.. Thank you! Thank you!

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