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Control Predators, Follow Law

Editorial / Juneau Empire / January 27, 2006

(This editorial first appeared in the Ketchikan Daily News)

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game did the right thing in temporarily suspending the state's predator control programs.

That's not because the idea is ill conceived, but because a court ruled that the department didn't follow proper procedures in instituting them. The state is studying both the ruling and Fish and Game's programs to give them internal consistency and to comply with the ruling of the court.

That's as it should be. Regardless of one's opinion on the controversial program, which is especially targeted by fundraising groups that prefer Alaska for shutdown projects, we hope we all agree that the state, like the rest of us, must follow the law.

The judge's ruling said the Game Board "failed to adequately address some or all of these regulatory requirements in each of the applicable (game management units) in which it has authorized wolf control."

The program has been maligned by many who don't understand that the meat they eat doesn't actually start out as a plastic-wrapped package in a cooler. ...

The control program, which operates in five areas of the state, is designed to boost moose and caribou numbers in areas where wolves are killing so many that families have difficulty finding enough for food, according to The Associated Press. ...

The state's director of Wildlife Conservation, Matt Robus, says the division's attorney is reviewing Superior Court Judge Sharon Gleason's ruling to determine whether it relates to "technical things that can be addressed or whether it is bigger than that."

Fish and Game Commissioner McKie Campbell said the judge "ruled in favor of the state on virtually all of the arguments made by the plaintiffs. The programs have been invalidated based upon the judge's finding that the Board of Game's regulations are 'internally inconsistent.' The state can make its regulations consistent."

He called the ruling "a minor setback."

We hope he's right.

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