An initiative to ban the aerial shooting of wolves has been approved to appear on the 2008 ballot, Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell's office announced Friday.
Parnell gave notice that Alaskans for Wildlife's ballot petition banning the same-day airborne shooting of wolves met the required number of signatures to be placed on the ballot in August 2008. Petition sponsors had to collect at least 31,450 qualified signatures, or 10 percent of the 314,502 votes cast in the 2004 general election.
Initiative sponsors last October dropped off eight cardboard boxes at the state Division of Elections office in Anchorage. Inside were petitions with 56,574 signatures, more than the required amount. The signatures then were verified by the election staff.
According to co-sponsor Joel Bennett of Juneau, a former member of the Board of Game, the initiative is basically the same one Alaska voters passed twice before in 1996 and 2000 banning land-and-shoot hunting of wolves.
Both times, the Alaska Legislature gave the game board authority to develop the programs after the two-year initiatives had expired.
The game board approved the most recent incarnation of aerial predator control that allows gunners either to shoot wolves from the air or to land first and then shoot. It has been expanded to five areas of Alaska, some of which also allow the shooting of bears.
The program, which is intended to increase moose and caribou populations, is in its fourth year. Under the program, more than 550 wolves have been killed.
"Now that the state has certified the signatures, Alaskans will have yet another chance to stop same-day aerial gunning of wolves and prevent the same treatment of bears in 2008's primary election," Bennett, chairman of Alaskans for Wildlife, said Friday in a news release.
The initiative will not affect the legal hunting of wolves and bears by sport hunters, trappers and subsistence users.
The initiative also includes a provision allowing the use of aircraft by state Department of Fish and Game personnel to manage wildlife populations and control predators in cases of a biological emergency.
"Voters throughout Alaska want to stop airborne gunning of wolves and prevent the same from happening to bears," Bennett said.