There’s no room at the inn for caribou. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service is considering its options to help contain a herd of caribou that has found its way to an uninhabited island on U.S. Federal land in the Aleutians.
From the Associated Press:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials say caribou swim from Adak Island, where they were introduced to provide sport hunting for military personnel, to uninhabited Kagalaska Island, part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. The agency proposes to keep a new herd from forming by killing caribou on Kagalaska with refuge staff, volunteers or contractors, starting next year.
Five caribou were shot in 2012 and up to 15 more may be on the island. Kagalaska is a wilderness area and caribou would alter it, said refuge manager Steve Delehanty.
“Things that belong out there ought to stay out there as much as possible,” he said by phone from his office in Homer. “Things that don’t belong out there ought to not be out there, as much as possible.”
Caribou would target the island’s lichen beds, trample other vegetation and create trails, he said.
“None of it is natural,” Delehanty said.
Adak is a 283-square mile island 1,300 miles southwest of Anchorage. The military built an airfield on the island during World War II and it was used as a Naval Air Station until 1997.
The nearest native caribou are 500 miles away. At the request of military officials, caribou were introduced to the island in 1958 to give personnel opportunities for recreational hunting.
When the island housed 1,000 to 6,000 people, sport hunting kept the herd to 200 to 400 animals. After the base closed, by 2012, the herd had grown to an estimated 2,700 animals. Their only predators are people, and hunters can shoot cows year-round.