Anchorage, Alaska - After a judge stung the Board of Game, putting a temporary halt to the state's predator control programs, the board comes back with a counterattack. The end message is if the program breaks the rules and you make the rules, change them.
Yesterday, the Alaska Board of Game stripped from the regulations a checklist of guidelines any predator control program would have to follow.
"It will enable the board to be able to defend the positions on those control implementation plans in the future," said Mike Fleagle, the chairman of the Board of Game.
Biologist Paul Joslin, representing Alaskans for a Representative Board of Wildlife, says the board wiped from the books the need to define why a program to kill wolves and bears is needed. He says no longer will these programs be required to state an objective or to set out a timeframe. And, he says, even a requirement for public notice and comment has been trashed.
"It makes a mockery of the public process regardless of where you stand on the issue of predator control. That to take out the opportunity for public hearings, to take out all of the legal requirements that are needed, I'm beside myself," Joslin said.
It was those guidelines that Judge Sharon Gleason says the board violated when she grounded the state's five predator control programs two weeks ago. Board chairman Mike Fleagle (below) says predator control plans will include all of the necessary information and he says the board will not short-change public
But Fleagle says the move will make challenging the plan much more difficult. "They will be, I'm sure, continually looking for ways to challenge it, and that's their right within the legal system. But we feel real strongly that we're within our rights in taking the actions we have and we'll defend them," he said.
The board may have to, as wildlife groups are considering another legal challenge on yesterday's action.
Meanwhile, Gleason will hold a hearing tomorrow to examine changes the board made to its current plans to comply with her ruling.
Wildlife groups will be seeking an injunction from the judge to keep the programs grounded.