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Judge finds game board failed to follow rules on wolf control

January 17, 2006 | Wolves
By MARY PEMBERTON, Associated Press Writer

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Alaska's lethal wolf control program under which hundreds of wolves have been killed is illegal, a judge ruled Tuesday in a victory for a Connecticut-based animal rights group.

In a case going back to November 2003, Superior Court Judge Sharon Gleason ruled that the state failed to follow its own regulation when authorizing the aerial wolf control program, where pilot and gunner teams were allowed to shoot the wolves from the air.

Given the judge's ruling, the program has been suspended, Matt Robus, director of the state Division of Wildlife Conservation, said soon after the judge issued her ruling. People with permits to kill wolves in the five areas of the state where the program is under way were being notified, he said.

"Meanwhile, our attorney is still analyzing what the judge had to say. Based on what we hear from him we will decide if there are technical things can be addressed or whether it is bigger than that," Robus said.

Gleason, who went over more than 2,000 pages of documents offered by the state, found that the Alaska Board of Game did not follow some or all of the state regulations when authorizing the program in the five areas.

The court found "that the Board of Game failed to adhere to its own regulation regarding the control of predation by wolves when it adopted these aerial control plans," Gleason said in her 32-page ruling.

More precisely, the state failed to provide required justification for the program, including previous measures that failed to work, Gleason said. The game board also failed to explain why alternative means for reducing the number of wolves would not work, the judge said.

"The Board is bound by its regulations," Gleason said. "A review of the enabling regulations for aerial wolf control programs ... indicates that the Board failed to adequately address some or all of these regulatory requirements in each of the applicable GMU (game management units) in which it has authorized wolf control."

The ruling was a long-awaited victory for Friends of Animals, a Darien, Conn.-based animal rights group that led the fight against the wolf-killing program and previously had failed to get the judge to issue an emergency injunction to stop it.

"She has ruled that the wolf control program is invalid and all the underlying regulations are invalid," said Friends of Animals president Priscilla Feral, who added she was "tremendously gratified with Judge Gleason's ruling."

"It (the law) requires that they have data and present the data and establish the facts that are required in those regulations. They can't just make stuff up," said the plaintiffs' lawyer, James Reeves of Anchorage.

Robus said it was too early to tell if the program can be salvaged.

"I'm not sure what the procedure is to fix it is. I think ... we need to evaluate what Judge Gleason had to say and what action to take."

The program is aimed at boosting the number of moose and caribou in areas where residents say wolves are killing too many, leaving them with too few for food. State biologists estimate that Alaska has 7,000 to 11,000 wolves. Robus has said there are some early indications that the program is working.

Since the program began in 2003, more than 400 wolves have been killed. The state set a goal of another 400 this winter. The state issued more than 100 new permits last month.

Comments

According to Larry: "We are a part of Nature- the only sentient part...." Merriam Webster defines sentient (Latin sentient-, sentiens) as: 1 : responsive to or conscious of sense impressions; 2 : aware; 3 : finely sensitive in perception or feeling. Non-human animals do indeed perceive, have awareness, and respond to sense impressions. Wolves could well be more sentient, on a number of levels, than humans and the animals we have domesticated. And whether or not you are part of nature, what's obvious is that you have adopted modern amenities, including a computer, and, unlike wolves, need not kill other sentient beings to survive. Ellie Maldonado Friends of Animals

Finally, justice prevails. Hip-Hip-Hooray for Alaska wolves! May they always be free.

Worry about your own problems. Stay out of Alaska's business. We take care of our own problems our way. Have you ever lived here? Do you know what it truly means to be alaskan. It is nothing like the lower 48's. We do things a lot differently here. [Blog editors'note: Tom Wright asked us to post this reply, on behalf of Tom and Sondra:] My wife and I have been privileged to see wolves in Alaska several years ago while on an extended vacation throughout the state. We had planned to return a couple of years ago (and help boost the Alaska economy) but decided to boycott Alaska until this barbaric practice stopped. I'm an ex-hunter. Now I use only a camera for shooting. Please tell Ethan it doesn't matter if you "live in Alaska" - WRONG IS WRONG!! Wolves are very social animals and killing them breaks up their family.

Congrats to this Judge, who has vision without political overtones... Alaska should be careful not to get into the trap that some of our North Western states have followed.. A wonderful book to read for all of "Friends of Animals", and those who are sceptical is "THE LOOP", by Nicholas Evans, who also wrote "The Horse Whisperer". Perhaps this book will shed some insight to those who have forgotten the spiritual value of these wonderful animals!!!

This has everything to do with the preservation of an endangered species, the preservation of an almost extinct animal. It is not the business of Alaska only, it is the business of all who care about and are will to be the voice for those who cannot speak for themselves... for those who are being killed out of ignorance and greed! Why not capture these wolves and relocate them to another area. Why does it seem that the answer to everything now a days means to exterminate that which a select few deem a threat or intolerable? What we need to start doing is respecting the wilderness and everything in it. Earth is not for human use only.....perhaps we should control our own population before killing off those which we THINK are taking over the land. A land meant for all living creatures not just human alone! [Blog editors' note: True... and the best part is that the wolves can stay where they are, thus not have to suffer the hazards and losses of relocations.]

I think that we should reintroduce wolves to New York and California (along with grizzly bears). Those are areas where there numbers have truly been decimated. Alaska has done a better job of managing it's animals than California or New York.

Finally. A Judge who watches National Geographic, Animal Planet and other informational sources about the CRUCIAL LINK of Wolves in the Food Chain and our very existence on this planet. Apparently most members of Congress and our very own President haven't. I guess they're too busy tightening the screws on their gun racks. Congratulations to the Wolves! This made my day! Thank you Friends of Animals!

Yeah for the wolves of Alaska! They do belong there, not hunters. Now on to Idaho and may the wolves prevail there.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for keeping up the fight against the barbaric practice of aerial predator control, and for doing what we Alaskans can't seem to get our legislators to stop!!!

... Sure would be great if those lower 48ers worry about their own politics, save your own state from (your own fate)..and let us control ourselves...And by the way, drill in ANWR?... HELL YES [Blog editors' note: We're in full agrement that you should start controling yourselves; leave the wolves and others alone. Moreoever, let's cancel the federal hand-outs, too.]

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