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Judge rejects group's bid to halt wolf control program

February 03, 2005 | Wolves

By Rachel D'Oro
*Associated Press, Anchorage, Alaska (Published: February 2, 2005)* -- A Superior Court judge on Wednesday denied a request from animal rights advocates to halt Alaska's aerial wolf control program until the issue goes to trial in May.

Connecticut-based Friends of Animals and others are suing the state over a game management program they call a slaughter. The wolf program aims to boost moose populations in five areas of the state.

In her 15-page decision, Judge Sharon Gleason said the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that the elimination of as many as 610 wolves this year would cause irretrievable damage to the species. As of Wednesday, 93 wolves had been killed this winter, state officials said.

Wolf populations here have never been threatened or endangered. The state Department of Fish and Game last year estimated there were 8,000 to 11,000 wolves in Alaska. About 1,500 are killed every year, mostly by trappers.

"The plaintiffs have made it quite clear that to them, the practice of killing wolves from airplanes to enhance moose populations for human consumption is a practice they find morally and ethically repugnant," Gleason wrote.

"But in balancing the hardships between the parties for purposes of preliminary injunctive relief, the fact that the state's aerial wolf control programs are in direct contravention to the plaintiffs' beliefs is not, under the law, a factor that is considered an 'irreparable injury' in determining whether preliminary injunctive relief is necessary."

Priscilla Feral, president of Darien, Conn.-based Friends of Animals, said the group has not decided whether it will appeal the ruling. But it will continue its long-running boycott of Alaska tourism to protest the wolf program, which Feral likened to "treating moose like livestock and ranching" them.

"Friends of Animals will continue to oppose the state's wolf control at every level, in every forum and at every opportunity," she said. "We remain adamantly opposed to the wolf shootings and to a tight-knit group of politicians contriving and inflating numbers to justify wolf control."

Feral said the group will continue its campaign to collect 28,000 pledges by the end of the month in support of the tourism boycott.

Friends of Animals also this week launched virtual howl-ins so people can register their opposition online. The group has collected about 5,000 signatures at actual howl-ins, or protests, staged across the country since December, Feral said.

The signatures will be mailed to Gov. Frank Murkowski.

--

On the Net:

http://www.friendsofanimals.org/programs/howl-in/

Comments

Another dark Thursday. Gleason's decision is disheartening for so many of us, and I want to assure all the good members of FOA that there are many of us here in Alaska who find this wolf killing one of the most horrible and disastrous events occurring on the planet today. I continue to be astonished that, with all we know about the more-than-human world, we continue, in governmental policy and wildlife management, to follow Descartes' mechanistic view of non-human life. We're not just talking about numbers, about populations. We're talking about unique individuals, families, generations. I must take heart in the continuing good work of Friends of Animals, which is the *only* group that continues to fight against this. The rest of animal rights and environmental groups are spinelessly invisible. And please, do not be swayed by some Alaskans' line that they need to preserve their way of life or their subsistence values. This is not what this wolf-killing is about. It's about a handful of arrogant individuals thirsty for power and blood.

While I agree with most of Marybeth's comments I need to correct her statement that FOA is the only group working to stop the aerial hunting. Both the Alaska Wildlife Alliance (which has a long and often effective history of combating "wolf control") and Defenders are also working to stop the BOG's efforts to decimate our wolf and bear populations. Of late, FOA has been doing a great deal of the work but they are not alone and as a longtime Alaskan and conservationist I appreciate the involvement of all three groups as well as any others participating to end the travesty. Marybeth is quite correct in her final assessment as to the reasons for the program. The reported numbers of wolves given by Fish and Game miraculously boomed as soon as Murkowski took office though the disparity between high and low numbers is almost 50%, a rather startling amount of room for error. I seriously doubt F&G has been able to run the aerial surveys needed to corroborate these numbers as such studies are both expensive and time-consuming, especially with wolves which are not as easy to spot as moose. Most likely a good deal of their data comes from trappers which is much like asking the fox how many hens are in the hen house. FOA's efforts to preserve our wolves are laudable. Even more so, though, are their efforts to reduce the fur trade since that is the economic engine that drives a good deal of the trapping (believe it or not there are trappers who admit they trap solely for the "challenge" of outsmarting the wildlife). The cowards doing the aerial hunting get to sell the fur from the wolves they take and that can reach as much as $400 a pelt which pays for a lot of avgas. Cut the fur trade and you will eliminate a great deal of the incentive for such persecutions. ...Art, in Fairbanks

It's good to know there are many Alaskans like Marybeth and Art, who oppose the slaughter of wolves. Friends of Animals is the only animal rights group which is committed to ending wolf control, and to the preservation of the natural environment.

There is only one thing I can say to you.....SHAME ON YOU!!!! The only question I want to ask is,"What's in this for you?????????" Sincerely Yours, Linda Wight

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