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Judge Rejects Request for Halt to Wolf Control in Alaska

Dan Joling / AP Writer / Fairbanks Daily News-Miner / January 31, 2006

Anchorage, Alaska (AP) -- A judge on Tuesday denied a request by an animal rights group to immediately halt the state's aerial wolf-killing program.

Superior Court Judge Sharon Gleason said the state Board of Game acted properly in adopting emergency regulations last week that make the population control program conform to state law.

Gleason ruled Jan. 17 that the board violated its own standards for expanding the program, in part because it did not provide justification for it or explain why alternatives such as sterilization or habitat destruction would not work.

The program, intended to boost moose or caribou populations in five areas of the state, got its start in 2003 in an area of Alaska's Interior where residents had long complained predators were killing too many moose, leaving too few for food.

The Darien, Conn.-based animals rights group Friends of Animals asked for the injunction, saying the board should have used standard procedures - including taking public testimony - in adopting new wolf-killing regulations.

Gleason ruled Tuesday that the new regulations do not expand the program and there has been a long record of public testimony on the program.

She also said the state made a compelling argument that its multiyear program to reduce predators in affected game units would by harmed by going through the normal adoption of regulations.

That would have kept airborne shooting teams out of the skies at least through April, months considered the prime time for finding and killing wolves.

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