Wolf Song of Alaska News

Game Board Expands Predator Control Areas

Associated Press / Fairbanks Daily News-Miner / May 15, 2006

Anchorage, Alaska (AP) -- The Alaska Board of Game has affirmed five existing wolf control programs under way in different parts of the state and substantially expanded one of them.
The Game Board adopted emergency regulations in January in response to a decision by a Superior Court judge in Anchorage that halted aerial wolf control programs in five places.

Concluding a three-day meeting Sunday in Anchorage, the board Sunday voted to continue predator control programs in four of the five areas with minor or no changes, said Cathie Harms, a Department of Fish and Game spokeswoman.

In the fifth, the board voted to expand the area covered by the predator control program to Game Management Units 12 and 20E to cover more range of the Fortymile caribou herd. Biologists have said growth in the herd is being held in check by wolf kills.

For three years, the state has issued permits in selected areas for private pilots and gunners to shoot wolves from airplanes or to land and shoot them. The shooting teams have killed 564 wolves.

The Game Board adopted emergency regulations in response to a judge's ruling on a lawsuit filed by Connecticut-based animal right's group Friends of Animals. Superior Court Judge Sharon Gleason ruled that the Game Board had not followed its own rules in approving the programs and had not considered all alternatives besides aerial killing.

The Game Board responded with emergency regulations that satisfied the legal shortcomings and resurrected aerial wolf control in all five areas.

The emergency regulations expire this month.

The Game Board on Sunday also made a change in hunting regulations that affect predators.

Black bear hunters in areas with predator control programs will be allowed to shoot black bears over bait stations the same day they fly as long as they are 300 feet or more away from the aircraft.

The board rejected a proposal to allow hunters to use snares to catch bears.

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