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January 26, 2006 | Wolves

Alaska Game Board Maneuvers to Bring Back Wolf Control Program

Associated Press / January 25, 2006

Anchorage, Alaska -- The state Board of Game rewrote its aerial wolf hunting regulations Wednesday in a move to revive a program deemed illegal by a judge last week.

Hunters could be back in the air before the weekend if Lt. Gov. Loren Lehman approves the revised guidelines Thursday, said Board of Game Chairman Mike Fleagle.

"We anticipate the plaintiffs will try to stop the program, but for now it will go back online," Fleagle said.

Friends of Animals, a Darien, Conn.-based animal rights group, has led the fight against the wolf-killing program, which is intended to boost moose and caribou populations in five areas of the state. The program got its start in 2003 in the McGrath area of the Interior where residents had long complained predators were killing too many moose, leaving them with too few for food.

Last week, Superior Court Judge Sharon Gleason ruled in favor of the animal rights group, saying the game board failed to provide required justification for the program. She also said the board did not explain why alternative means for reducing the number of wolves would not work.

The board also gave no explanation for how it set the wolf reduction levels -- ranging from 40 to 90 percent in the different areas, Gleason said.

The board gathered on Wednesday at what it called an emergency meeting, where members voted unanimously to scrap the existing rules for its five aerial wolf control areas and insert new language in response to Gleason's ruling.

Giving a meeting emergency status meant the board did not have to take public comment on its rule changes.

"The board should act as quickly as possible to address the problems the judge identified," said Department of Law attorney Kevin Saxby.

The regulation changes included adding wolf and moose population estimates that the board says justifies the aerial hunting program.

The board also added a list of aerial hunting alternatives that it deems unfeasible. They include destroying wolf habitat by burning or bulldozing, sterilization, relocation, stocking areas with more moose and feeding roadkill to wolves as another food source.

Fleagle said most of these alternatives were too expensive.

Jim Reeves, the lawyer representing Friends of Animals and seven Alaska plaintiffs, said the board meeting to pass emergency regulations was wrong.

"We have made it clear to Kevin Saxby's office that we do not regard it as an emergency when an agency needs to adopt regulations to fix a problem of its own making," he said.

The board needs to engage in the normal rule-making process, which requires public notice and comment, Reeves said. It also needs to go back and get new information from the five areas to support the wolf control program, he said.

"It has to get contemporaneous information ... not just rely on information from two, three, five years ago and patch a couple of holes," he said. "What they did today is they said we will just look again at all this stale information from before and put some patches on it."

If the state decides to reinstate the wolf control program anyway, Reeves said one possibility is to ask the judge to examine the legality of the emergency regulations.

Comments

It seems as though ignorance and arrogance once again lifts its vile head! People need to understand that aerial hunting was an effort to easily cull the wolf in large numbers. An effort which would have allowed mankind to more easily rape and pillage a land which not only belongs to us but ALL LIVING THINGS! There are more "humane" alternatives to better co-exist with wolves in the wilderness. Killing them off just seems to be the easiest and most cost-efficient way these blind and greedy "men" know of... which is the typical mentality of the self-righteous and power hungry!

I was just sickened and very distressed, I would like to know what reasoning they have to shoot... an animal that people are so ignorant about! The animals, like the wolves, don't get the respect, or a chance to live. The wolf is here on earth for a reason, not for some idiot to think they can shoot them because they can? I think it is wrong and I am outraged at these people who think they can just get away with it, please let me know what I can do here in Wa State to help. I am more than willing to join the cause to help. Thank you for your time Melanie Wise (Comp)

This is for the people in favor of the wolf hunt: go out this weekend and look around your state, see all the oil wells and closed mines, well guess what, that's going to be the future of your state, the mining and oil companies have your politicians in their pockets. Don't believe me? Take a look at the lobbiest in your state online. The only thing keeping them out is your wildlife, once thats gone, the oil and mining co. will be able to move in, you will have a spurt in your economy, then high unemployment after they get what they need and leave. Your land will be worthless, just a icecube with holes in it and a oil slick. Then you can go thank your hunter friends when you have to move back down to the lower 48 states. Ask them if you can borrow a gun, because the animals down here shoot back. Remember thats the whole reason you moved up there in the first place. So instead of killing everything in sight, you might want to treat them like gods, because its only a matter of time before all your resources are taken away from you. Look at the price of oil, that's the war you're going to lose. Your land has it and the rest of the world needs it.

Dear Alaskan Bush Resident, A majority of Alaskans have voted against aerial wolf control -- twice. Moreover, wolves are being hunted over land that belongs to us all. Liberate your larder. Ellie Maldonado Friends of Animals

UPDATE: On 27 January 2006 Friends of Animals acted to bring the aerial wolf control issue back to the Superior Court in Alaska. We filed a Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order, a Preliminary Injunction, and a Second Amended Complaint against the Alaska Game Board's activity. The Superior Court of Alaska had already, on the 17th, declared the State's aerial wolf control program illegal. The Board's actions were problematic in serious ways. For the Upper Yukon/Tanana area, the Board adopted findings that would have permitted aerial gunning in an area of 600 square miles. Yet they subsequently regulated approximately 10,000 square mles into the aerial scheme. Friends of Animals' goal is to stop the entire scheme, that is, have the Department cancel the aerial wolf-shooting permits, and to have the new regulations declared invalid as well. In my opinion it could not be more obvious that the Board of Game's emergency meeting was bogus. The Board adopted emergency regulations that are bogus. This is because the Board's lack of competence in adhering to its own rules is not properly called an emergency. There have been far too many warnings over years to be able to call an emergency. Had the Governor and these state officials taken to heart two previous ballot initiatives -- the people's voice -- they would not be in this mess today. A lack of attention to their own people's desires is not an emergency. Friends of Animals will continue to press the State to respect the Superior Court's role, its process, and its decision. Priscilla Feral Friends of Animals

Thank you for fighting for wolves in this state. Two of our commentators who normally support subsistence and rights of hunters had this to say last Friday on "Alaska in Review" on KAKM TV. Nellie Moore said that shooting wolves from the air seemed to violate "fair play" and Tom Brennan said that Alaska is getting a bad reputation for being "poor stewards of the environment." To me it seems barbaric for Fish and Game wardens to contract with local hunters/pilots to chase and shoot wolves from the air. Almost as if they can't stomach the job themselves.

Yes, we are living in "dark" times and not only in Alaska. If human predators are in control, who is at fault? More importantly, what are we willing to do to change it?

Ah....Sweet victory. I so enjoy reading the naiveté of the Wolf Huggers on here. "I'm sitting ensconced in my suburban drone lifestyle, latte in hand. And I am going to pretend to grasp ANY of the intricacies of wildlife management or wolf overpopulation in rural Alaska." Puh-Lease. Stick with what you folks know best. Taking your kids to soccer practice, arguing over which SUV best accessorizes your wardrobe, or how much the cost of gas is putting a crimp in your martini budget. I have a great respect for the wolf. But I also recognize the need to properly manage a RESOURCE that is fair for ALL sides of the issue. Not just the folks who thought "Brother Bear" were a documentary. Now go ahead moderator/admin person...Add your little "**" and insert some un-educated, knee jerk reactionary drivel that will make you and the rest of the deluded followers feel better about your urban warrior lifestyle..... [ Blog editors' note: Thanks for sharing.]

I am so tired of people from Outside trying to tell us what we can and can't do with our resources. I choose to live here as you choose to live where ever you live. I don't waste my time telling you what you can or can't do. I don't tell you you can't shop here or buy that food over there - why are you trying to tell us what to do for subsistence. My children need to eat as do yours. My larder is the wilderness; we get into Anchorage or Fairbanks maybe 2 or 3 times a year. With the wolf problem we have the moose and the caribou are down yes but so are the rabbits and other small game. I do feel that shooting wolves from the air seems to be unfair and unsportsmanlike but you know what - if it were you - you would want the state to do ANYTHING it could to keep your population and voting constituents happy. My point is; if your from up here I'll listen to you but if you're from Outside shut-up.

It seems that the Wolves deadly enemy are the simple minds that are in power supposedly to protect wildlife. It's a COWARDLY act to shoot from the air. Jack Brown

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