The federal budget act, which provides fiscal year 2016 funding for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, includes language prohibiting the USFWS Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge from spending any funds to remove non-native caribou from Kagalaska Island and conduct any work to address unauthorized cattle grazing on Chirikof and Wosnesenski islands.
For this reason, the refuge has 1) cancelled the planned 2016 caribou control operations on Kagalaska Island and 2) will not complete and release a draft environmental impact statement or conduct any other activities related to the effort to address the unauthorized cattle on Chirikof and Wosnesenski islands. The specific language in the Senate Appropriations Committee Report is as follows:
The Committee directs that no funds are provided for the Service to conduct a caribou hunt on Kagalaska Island in the State of Alaska. Additionally, the Committee directs that no funds are provided to the Service for efforts to remove cattle on Chirikof and Wosnesenski Islands in the State of Alaska.
If authorized in the future, we hope to continue efforts begun in 2015 to prevent non-native caribou from becoming established on Kagalaska Island and impacting habitat. Read more about our past work on Kagalaska Island HERE.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service appreciates the public’s participation in the environmental impact statement scoping process to determine how to address the cattle on Chirikof and Wosnesenski islands. We received hundreds of comments covering a wide range of issues—from determining cattle ownership and genetics to impacts on cultural and natural resources. If authorized in the future, we hope to provide a draft EIS for public review and comment and address these issues.
Due to the budget act restrictions, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is not allowed to issue permits that would result in removal of any cattle from these two islands. Also, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is not allowed to work on clarifying ownership of the cattle.
To learn more about our previous work on Chirikof and Wosnesenski Islands, see the links below: