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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

Obviously these "People" or should I say "wildlfe" killers have nothing better to do except to kill innocent wolves. It really is sickening. It should not be allowed as the judge said. Re-wording paperwork should not change anything. The Judge ruled and that should STAND!! It does violate fair play and sets a bad president for the world. Why hunters have to "cheat" is beyond me.

I applaud your efforts to save Alaska's wolf population, and wish you great success in defeating this harebrained measure that would permit their slaughter from the air. The officials hoping to thin wolf packs in this (or any) manner need to be voted out of office. We need more, not fewer, wolves in the wild.

A letter published in the Fairbanks News-Miner follows: It's no surprise the Seekins/Alaska Outdoor Council wolf killing program, already unpopular with most Alaskans, was recently judged to be illegal. Implemented by Seekins in circumvention of the voters' will, supported by the most-despised governor in Alaska's state history, also supported by his politically appointed Fish and Game commissioner, it has already seen two convictions for illegal hunting, and an indiscriminate application by a Board of Game whose members are all AOC and most of whom are in the business of killing wildlife. It's interesting that the Department of Fish and Game as administered by McKie Campbell never noticed the illegality of the program in view of the game board's own regulations (which they had created then consistently failed to follow). Despite attempts by such AOC notables as Rod Arno and Dick Bishop to trivialize the judge's decision as being based on "technicalities," the fact is essential scientific data were sorely absent as were required justifications and other findings all of which demonstrate how little science was involved in these decisions. Then, there is the News-Miner always ready to parrot the AOC line about "sound science" without question. Pandering to the AOC, it has consistently chosen an editorial bias over sound journalism, putting aside any integrity that should have prevailed. So what does it all boil down to? An illegal program that has operated more along the lines of a vendetta, a program opposed (according to the latest polls) not only by a majority of Alaskans but even a majority of Alaska hunters. A program that Ralph Seekins, despite obvious public disapproval, is going to do his best to force on us again as he pursues his obsession with the decimation of our wolf population. Through the political process, through the Board of Shame, we have seen the AOC hijack our state wildlife management efforts with intensive management and now with aerial hunting. Ben Franklin once responded to a blowhard in a way which, paraphrased, addresses the claims of Mssrs. Murkowski, Campbell, Bishop, Arno and the News-Miner: The science to which they allude is sound; nothing but sound. Art Greenwalt / Fairbanks

This should be stopped at once. Wolves are the oldest and most noble animal in the world. Please do everything in your power to stop this.

I've blogged this site an this topic a number of times so I won't repeat myself too much. I am a lifetime Alaskan who, while not a great fan of wolf control (I believe that allowing wildfires to burn unchecked would increase ungulate populations more naturally), believes that Alaskans should control their game populations as they see fit, free from outside interference. Although I hunt, I do not define myself as a "hunter." It is an activity that i enjoy, it does not define me as a person. I am well aware that this activity alone distinguishes me from many of the people who read this blog so you don't need to tell me how immoral you think hunting is. However, one on my problems with this site is that it is filled with misinformation and opinion disguised as fact. Melanie, we aren't that ignorant about wolves. They have been intensively studied. Although there is always room to learn more, we do know that they affect prey populations although the dynamics of the relationship are more complex than some of the older research would suggest. Dino, neither the land nor the wolves belong to you or me or to all of us. The land belongs to the various governmental entities. The wolves, like all game in a state, "belongs" (at least to the degree that they control whether and how you can kill it) to the State of Alaska. You can debate that all you want, but that is the law in this country. Mark, wolves are not even close to the oldest animal. The first gray wolf,(Canis Lupis), probably appeared in Eurasia sometime in the early Pleistocene period about a million years ago. Around 750,000 years ago, it is thought to have migrated to North America. The Dire Wolf,(Canis Dirus), larger and heavier than the gray wolf, evolved earlier and the two co-existed in North America for about 400,000 years. Around 16,000 years ago, the dire wolf gradually became extinct itself. Around 7,000 years ago the gray wolf became the prime canine predator in North America. Wolves aren't even the oldest living canid as the Grey fox has them beat by about 750,000 years. The oldest living animal, stromatolites, are among the oldest living animals, some are more than 3 billion years old (U.M.). They are recurring agal mats that form alternating laminated layers with deposits of sediment. Wolves missed the cut by a long long way. As far as their "nobility" it is difficult to factually challange a normative opinion. We admire wolves much as we admire many social animals because they have behaviors that mimic human social behavior. This was likely the reason that humans tamed and then domesticated Asian wolves long before other animals. However, their "nobility" only goes so far. They will kill your dog in a heartbeat. They will rip apart a moose calf in front if its mother. I don't think these are ignoble acts - it is just the wolf being a wolf. However, the danger of anthopomorphizing any animal behavior is that we start down the slippery Treadwell slope away from science and toward silliness. The law of unintended consequenses - Patricia, Judge Gleason only ruled that the aerial wolf program, as presently formulated, did not meet the Fish and Game regulations for establishing such a program; not that the program itself was illegal or immoral, just that they didn't follow the rules. So what did the Game Board do? They went back and did it right. "Emergency meeting" is just a designation under the open-meetings act to have an unscheduled meeting. It is not significant what the "emergency" is. If you keep challenging this program, they will keep refining the program until it is air-tight. You may want to consider whether this is the correct strategy or whether you should consider what I have repeatedly suggested, get involved locally, leave New York City, and see what is really happening here from a game management perspective. J [Blog editors' note: There's no Patricia here, and Priscilla doesn't live in NY City, but travels to Alaska two or more times a year. FoA's many members in Alaska are involved, as well as a team of lawyers and biologists in Anchorage. Friends of Animals will be back in court for a hearing Tuesday morning, 31 Jan., as we filed a TRO and Preliminary Injunction. Clearly, the judge ruled that the aerial wolf control scheme is invalid. On Sunday, 29 January 2006, the Board of Game pulled a fast one with repealing requirements for public notice and input on predator control programs -- stripping democracy out of the process. We believe the Board's actions violated the Administrative Procedures Act, since the public wasn't given prior notice and an opportunity to comment. The Board of Game is abusing its role by trying to silence opposing ideas. The wolf control program was declared illegal by the Superior Court in Alaska. We're calling for democracy, an end to aerial wolf-shooting, and a stop to the Board's shameful governance.]

To the Blog, I was there in the meeting, when predator control was being talk about on Sunday the 29th, it was well talk about, and as far as Mr Paul Joslin, that was making comments in the Alaska news, about this issues he did not make no public comments about the wolf control issue at the meeting neither did the FOA , but many people from the public who did make public comments on things that concern them, did say thank you to the board of game for staying strong for wolf control. So what ever you may feel or not feel, I did not see FOA standing up for what they believe in, but I did see citizens of Alaska standing up for what they believe in and saying so. And they said keep wolf control going !!!!!!!! [Blog editors' note: Friends of Animals did attend the "emergency" meeting of the Board of Game. We heard that there was an emergency because someone had just finished "anualling" (performing annual maintenance on) their expensive aircraft. Most of the citizens of Alaska do not own an aircraft and are not represented by the small percentage of people who are interested in aerial gunning permits. And we heard the view that the "emergency" involved saving the reputation of the Board of Game. That speaks volumes about the state they are in at this point. Now regarding the shenanigans on Sunday, repealing requirements for public notice and input regarding wolf and bear control is hardly a show of respect for the citizens of Alaska. It strips democracy out of the process. Seems you ought to be somewhat concerned about the lack of public notice that the Board might do this. Citizens of Alaska, now is the time to brush up on your state's Administrative Procedures Act. It still exists...]

once again jack tims has stated my position on this matter far more eloquently then i could have. while his opinions echo mine i believe he left some misinformation unchecked. dave. of course most the politicians are pro oil and mining, if they were not they would not get elected. the majority of the alaskan people are pro oil and mining, politicians are elected to do what is in the best interest of the people. as far as the nonsense about ' all the oil wells and closed mines' the vast majority of alaskans have seen neither. our state is more than twice the size of texas with less infrastructure than seattle. explaining the vastness of our state to someone who has seen none or very little of it is impossible. a very small percentage of our land has been impacted by humans in any way. with national park and preserves larger than many states, the balance between development and environment is heavily in the favor of environment. most of us prefer it that way. we are also realistic about our resources. unless your lifestyle is such that you use no fossil fuels, being against all development of those resourses is illogical at best. alaska is not the only state in which i hunt and can tell you first hand that the animals in the lower 48 do not shoot back. sorry but i can make little sense of the rest of you statement so will leave it without comment. blog editor; i realize this has as little to do with the subject at hand as dave's comment did, please forgive me. i, like jack, have a problem with misinformation and the way people with no knowledge of alaska view our state.

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