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Alaska Judge Finds Wolf Control Program is Illegal

Raegan Scott / CBS / KTVA / January 17, 2006

Anchorage, Alaska - It may be a significant loss for the state, but it's a big win for opponents of the state's aerial wolf control program. State Superior Court Judge Sharon Gleason ruled today that the program is illegal.

The Department of Fish and Game says the state's predator control programs have been suspended. But Matt Robus, the director of the Division of Wildlife Conservation for the state, says his office is continuing to analyze the ruling.

"We're examining those to see what would need to be fixed in order to resurrect the programs and we've suspended the programs at the present time for obvious reasons. And we're working with the Board of Game and the Department of Law just to try to analyze exactly what's in the ruling," said Robus.

The ruling is good news for opponents of predator control. The Alaska Wildlife Alliance and Defenders of Wildlife say they are very happy about the decision.

"I think it means that the wolves of Alaska have a victory. But more importantly, the moose and caribou of Alaska have a long-term victory regarding their health and well being (with) the wolves being necessary for their long-term health," said John Toppenberg, Alaska Wildlife Alliance.

Although he declined an on-camera interview, Jim Reeves, the attorney for the plaintiffs, says he's pleased that Gleason came to the conclusion that the regulations that are the basis for predator control are invalid.

The state even admitted that there are internal inconsistencies with the Board of Game's regulations. However, the state hopes to get the regulations in compliance and resurrect the predator control program.

Despite his joy today, even Toppenberg knows it is likely not the end of this debate.


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