ANCHORAGE, Alaska – A federal judge on Thursday rejected the state of Alaska’s request to immediately kill seven wolves in a national wildlife refuge on Unimak Island.

The state wants to remove wolves from caribou calving grounds.

However, Judge H. Russel Holland refused Alaska’s request for a temporary restraining order against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which has threatened legal action if state employees enter the refuge in helicopters to shoot wolves.

Instead, the judge set a hearing Monday. He asked lawyers for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Interior Department to provide responses to the state’s lawsuit by Friday afternoon. The state has informed the judge that Monday is the longest it can wait to prevent wolves from eating calves this year.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has said that if it doesn’t act for even one calving season, it could take the herd several years to recover.

Caribou are an important subsistence food for about 62 people living on Unimak, the easternmost island in the Aleutian chain, but caribou numbers have been declining.