Anchorage AK -- Today Alaskans for Wildlife (AFW), a statewide group of sportsmen, scientists and recreationists submitted more than 57,000 signatures of Alaskans from across the state to place a measure on the ballot in 2008 to ban same-day airborne shooting of wolves and bears. The number is far in excess of the 31,451 required and represents nearly 20 percent of the number of voters that participated in the last general election.
"With the help of our signature gatherers across the state, including many volunteers, we were able to gather in excess of 57,000 signatures and easily surpassed the minimum requirement of 31,451," stated Joel Bennett, president of Alaskans for Wildlife (AFW). "We are confident that our efforts will pay off. This ballot initiative will allow Alaskans to once again stop private hunters from using aircraft to shoot wolves across large areas of the state in the absence of a biological emergency or sound scientific data."
In addition to far surpassing the minimum number of signatures needed AFW met the second requirement of securing a sufficient number of signatures from at least 30 of 40 state house districts. AFW's own count tallies more than the minimum number of signatures from at least 34 districts. By meeting the signature requirements AFW has succeeded in placing the issue of same-day airborne shooting on a statewide ballot for a third time.
The proposed ballot measure is essentially the same as the 1996 and 2000 ballot measures, each of which was approved by Alaskan voters but overturned by the legislature. As with the two previous ballot measures, this one will also not affect legal ground-based hunting of wolves and bears statewide by sport hunters, trappers and subsistence users. It also includes a provision allowing the use of aircraft by Department of Fish and Game personnel to control predators in cases of biological emergencies.
"From our personal experiences over the last few months, voters across the state made it clear that they want another chance to ban the same-day airborne shooting of wolves and bears, and we're committed to making sure their voices are heard yet again," declared Bennett. "From Anchorage to Juneau to the bush, the message we heard was the same: 'Stop same-day airborne wolf shooting.' That's exactly what our measured ballot initiative will do."
"We also wish to thank our colleague organizations, Alaska Wildlife Alliance and Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund for their continued support of our efforts," stated measure co-sponsor Nick Jans. These two groups provided advice and logistical support, allowing us to focus on the task at hand -- collecting enough signatures to qualify for inclusion on the 2008 ballot."
"Remember, these are Alaskans signing this petition. As in the past two initiatives, we received substantial support, not just in urban areas, but in the bush as well, including many Native communities where subsistence is a way of life. The people of Alaska have said it twice before and we're saying it again: Stop the same-day airborne shooting of wolves and bears. We don't support it, we don't believe in it, and we don't want it," said Nick Jans.
For more information visit http://www.alaskansforwildlife.org