Anchorage -- Permits were mailed Friday allowing pilot and shooter teams to kill wolves near Tok as part of an expanded aerial wolf control program operating this winter in Alaska.
The program, now operating in five areas of the state, aims to remove predators from areas where residents complained that wolves and bears are killing too many moose and caribou, leaving them with too little food for their tables.
The state's goal is to kill more than 500 wolves over the next few months. Hunters reported killing 144 wolves last winter, the first year of the program.
The five areas where the program is operating this winter all have things in common, said Cathie Harms, a spokeswoman for the Department of Fish and Game in Fairbanks. For example, the areas can sustain more moose and caribou, but predators are keeping levels low, she said.
"These programs are in response to try and manipulate numbers to benefit people," Harms said.
The program near Tok near the Canada-Alaska border is the fifth one approved since the state Board of Game and the state Department of Fish and Game reinstituted lethal wolf control after a 10-year hiatus.
Its goal is to remove about 140 wolves from the Tok area. The program will be suspended sometime in the spring, depending upon snow conditions. Snow is needed to track wolves.
The game board approved the first aerial wolf control program in a decade in Alaska in the McGrath area in 2003. As of a week ago, seven wolves had been killed under that program this winter.
While there are caribou near Tok, the focus of the program is to increase moose there, Harms said. She said permits were mailed Friday for 12 pilots and 11 assistants to the Fish and Game office in Tok, where the approved applicants can pick them up anytime.
After meeting with the area biologist to discuss the program, the pilot-shooter teams could begin searching immediately, she said. Under program rules, teams are not paid but can keep proceeds they get from the wolves.