The Board of Game today unanimously approved gutting the regulations governing control of predation by wolves (5 AAC 92.110) and control of predation by bears (5 AAC 92.115).
The new regulations remove the check list of legal requirements that must be met under 92.100 and 92.115, such as the justifications needed for engaging in predator control, assessment of predator and prey population levels, population objectives and the basis for the objectives, methods and means of removal, carrying capicity of the habitat, human use levels, etc. The new regulations grant the commissioner the authority to carry out a predator control program which is consistent with "any applicable predation control implementation plan adopted by the board".
Kevin Saxby, the state's attorney, pointed out that he has long felt major changes were needed, and that their passage would make it much more difficult for there to be legal challenges. Some board members also spoke to this point of view. Saxby strongly advised the Board of Game to request that the department expedite the changes, in order to give the department the authority it needs to do just that. This would assure that the regulations were enacted in time for the March Board of Game meeting in Fairbanks.
Given that there were no proposals before the Board of Game requesting consideration of a sweeping rewrite of AAC 92.110 and 5 AAC 92.115, the Board of Game needed a legal excuse to bring it to the table. It used Proposal 32 put forward by the Fairbanks Advisory Committee asking to amend both regulations to "Allow the pursuit of wolves and/or bears by snowmachine within intensive management predator control boundaries."
This is an outrage! The public was never informed of the Board's intentions to make sweeping changes to the existing regulations, and it was certainly not given an opportunity to express before the Board of Game its views on the issue.
The action that the Board of Game took today is one more piece of evidence that it is out of touch with the people and needs to be replaced with a Board of Wildlife that reflects the diversity of wildlife values held by all Alaskans.