Wolf Song of Alaska News

Alaska Game Board Meets in Fairbanks

The Associated Press / March 10, 2006

Fairbanks, Alaska (AP) -- The Board of Game begins 10 days of meetings Friday with many of the 167 proposals about changing hunting and trapping regulations around the state.

"One of the biggest issues is going to be predator control," acknowledged Cathie Harms, spokeswoman for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Fairbanks. "There's a lot of demand from people who want more animals."

Many of the proposals are aimed at reducing the number of bears and wolves, whether through aerial shooting, longer trapping and hunting seasons, increased bag limits or allowing hunters to use snowmachines to track down wolves.

The meeting of the seven-member board begins at 8:30 a.m. each day and is open to the public. It is being held at the Princess Hotel in Fairbanks.

In the past three years, the game board has established aerial wolf control programs in five parts of the state, each of which is considered an "intensive management unit" because they have historically been important food sources for residents.

Aerial gunners have killed more than 500 wolves in the past three years and state wildlife biologists say they are beginning to see indications that moose and caribou populations are rebounding in some areas. As a result, residents from several other regions want similar treatment.

Advisory committees from Delta Junction, the Central Kuskokwim, McGrath and the Yukon Flats all have submitted proposals to implement or expand wolf control programs in their areas.

The state Department of Fish and Game will recommend that the game board hold off pulling the trigger on any new predator control programs or expanding any existing ones because the state isn't prepared to back them up in court, Harms said. That includes a department proposal for lethal wolf control to help the Fortymile Caribou Herd.

"Any time people are seeing success from predator control programs they say, 'I wouldn't mind having that in my yard,'" Harms said. "Whether it's a realistic tool that would benefit them isn't always the case."

In addition to actual control programs, there are several proposals aimed at increasing the harvest of bears and wolves around the Interior. Among them:

-Allowing the use of snowmachines to chase down and shoot wolves.

-Allowing the use of bait to hunt wolves.

-Eliminating tag fees, increasing bag limits and lengthening seasons on both black and grizzly bears.

-Increasing bag limits and lengthening the hunting season for wolves.

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