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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

Thank you very much for the efforts that lead to the cessation of aerial wolf hunting in Alaska. As an Alaskan resident, I have found it most interesting, and somewhat embarrassing, that a multitude of our citizens presume we are entitled to act at will, within the physical boundaries of our state, while enriching the state, and ourselves, with federal monies. Regardless of the rhetoric, the majority of Alaskans are shopping at major chain stores. We love the mythology of the "Last Frontier." Few of us live it. I, for one, am most grateful that there are folks on the "outside," looking in.

It's too bad that all this energy is being used on animals. How many of you animal lovers have done anything to support a human in need today? Of course that would mean actually doing something instead of just reading what this organization publishes as fact. [Blog editors' note: We regret that you disagree with the decision, but the Superior Court of Alaska clearly thinks that focusing on this issue, and the facts surrounding it, is a worthwhile use of time.]

Thanks a million Friends of Animals. Justice prevails over the brutal practice of shooting wolves from Airplanes...Where is the sport in that anyway? The Minority and the Goverment nitwits who promote this in Alaska should be ashamed of themselves.

My comment on this issue is very simple, I do not beleive in hunting wolves, but it is nature for the wolves to hunt their food, who in the world do we think we are to say they have hunted enough, the other animals are suffering, that is the way it was meant to be, but here we are saying they have to be hunted to save other animals, now we are playing god, but the men who are doing the hunting are not real men, a real man hunts on the ground, they look their prey in the eye and then the real hunt begins, going in the air is chicken s--t. So here we are, trying are best to stop these people, I pray everynight that we win, but now we have a bunch of suits who by the way really could not care less and they probley have never done a real hunt in their life, saying that this is a bump in the road, the hunt will start up again, I hope in another life these men in suits and the ones hunting they wolves come back as a wolf and their butts are hunted.If you hunt that is ok but be a real man and do it on the ground not in the air where you are hiding, go look the wolf in the eye and then lets see how far you get. Thank You [Blog editors' note: We also oppose the hunting of wolves – in all its forms. Regardless of our gender, each of us can live a sincere life without taking the life of another conscious being. The best qualities of our humanity are hindered when we define ourselves through the act of stalking and destroying others – be it from the sky or the ground.]

Keep your bunny huggin crap in your own state. Do you see us going where you are and trying to change everything? Why dont you come live up here for a couple years and try to convert people to your beliefs?- thats because you would go runnin home with your tail between your legs.

Yes, indeed this is good news. I think of Mohammed Ali who refused to fight in the Vietnam war and Hugh Thompson, the Army pilot who rescued Vietnamese at Mylai--both denounced as traitors, cowards, etc., at the time. Ali was recently presented the Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, and Thompson, who recently died, is widely respected as a hero. Everyone who likes dogs should respect the wolf, the progenitor of the dog family. The killing of wolves is an atrocity. It is sadism. The aerial killing of wolves should be a federal crime. The aerial wolf-slayers have promised to get back to the aerial killing of wolves just as soon as they've straightened out a few of the technical legal defects in their own procedures. We should not have to wait 35 years to stop these aerial killers, or the bought-and-sold politicians that devise these bloody policies.

Way to go, Friends of Animals

why is it that the alaskans are willing to tell us to butt out of "their" business, but SO willing to take massive subsidies and crazy funding from the federal government? FOR EVERY DOLLAR OF TAXES PAID BY ALASKA, THE STATE RECEIVES $1.89 BACK. THEY ARE RANKED #2 IN THE COUNTRY IN MONEY RECEIVED FOR MONEY COLLECTED. My state, New York, gets 80 cents for every dollar we pay in taxes. Something is really [messed] up here- please stop complaining - your business IS our business, not only because we are all stuck her on this one planet, with one set of rapidly disappearing resources, but because WE PAY FOR YOUR BUSINESS, literally. And to the woman who hasn't had moose meat in 2 years, don't blame the wolves. They have as much right to those moose as you do, maybe more. You can go down to the grocery store and get some nice petroleum-produced beef or chicken. If your state and your federal government hadn't allowed the wholesale destruction of animals and environment there wouldn't be a problem. The REAL problem is too many people, overdevelopment, and gross exploitation of resources. And drilling in the ANWR is just going to make things worse.

jeff you wrote that the interior dept opened up an area for drilling that had been closed. could you tell me where that area is? i try to keep up on such things but must have missed that one. alaskan political leaders are in bed with oil and hunting. they are doing what is best for the majority of alaskans. it's what politicians do. oil is good for the majority of alaskans. hunting is good for the majority of alaskans. in the past it has been stated that only a small percentage of alaskans buy hunting licenses,therefore only a small percentage are hunters. this is true but misleading. many who do not hunt are pro-hunting and benefit from those who do. i only purchase one hunting license but feed 8 people. i doubt any of them are anti-hunting. this is true in most households. many residents in the villages, particularly in the arctic, have never purchased a license but the whole village is fed by the game harvested. alaska is pro-hunting. it is also true that the majority of alaskans are against aerial wolf hunts, it has been proved at the polls. i am not trying to downplay whats happened here or rain on anyones parade, just trying to clear up some misconceptions. and to Lee Hall, thank you and you are very welcome. jimmy allen

On behalf of the Alaskan Wolves, Thank you good people!!!

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