Despite howls of protest from Outside animal-rights groups and a grass-roots campaign to outlaw same-day airborne hunting of wolves, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is going ahead with its controversial effort to produce more moose and caribou for hunters.
The state would like 400 wolves killed this winter, the third year in a row that hunters armed with special permits can shoot wolves from the air or land.
So far, only six wolves have been killed this winter in areas targeted for lethal wolf control, but that number will climb as more pilots take to the air and the amount of daylight and snow increases to make tracking wolves easier, Fish and Game spokeswoman Cathie Harms said.
The state recently issued more than 100 permits to pilots who applied to participate in the program. Pilots, most of whom have “gunners” flying with them, must be approved by the state.
Alaska is home to the largest remaining population of gray wolves in the United States. State biologists estimate some 7,000 to 11,000 wolves roam the state.
More than 400 wolves have been killed since the state began issuing permits to aerial shooters two years ago to reduce wolf populations in specific “intensive management” areas, including a reported harvest of 277 wolves last year…
Priscilla Feral, executive director of Friends of Animals, the animal-rights organization based in Darien, Conn., that has protested Alaska’s predator control program by promoting a tourism boycott, is still fighting to stop the state from killing wolves.
While the group is not organizing the “howl-ins” the way it has the past two years, Feral said the group has a suit pending against the state to get the program stopped based on lack of information.
“We’re hoping to have the program declared illegal and halted,” Feral said. “We’re just waiting to hear the judge’s ruling to see whether or not we have a trial. We really think this is going to be decided in court.”
There’s a chance it could be decided by Alaska voters at the ballot box, too.
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