Wolf Song of Alaska News

Ad for Wolf Hunt Video May be Linked to Ballot Initiative

Angela Unruh / KTUU-TV / February 7, 2007

Anchorage, Alaska - How would you like to make $10,000?

An ad posted in the Anchorage Daily News offers just that. The only caveat is that you need to have video of a wolf hunt.

The timing of this ad may not be coincidence. It comes a little more than a year before Alaskans will again decide on whether or not the state's current aerial wolf hunting program should be stopped.

Call the number posted in the wolf footage ad, and this is what you hear:

"Thank you for responding to the wolf footage ad. Please leave your name, contact information and best time to reach you along with a brief description of the footage you have."

The ad asks Alaskans for footage of an aerial and or land-and-shoot wolf hunt, promising to pay up to $10,000 for suitable material. The organization behind the ad is Defenders of Wildlife.

When asked what the group intends to use the footage for, Defenders of Wildlife spokesman Cindy Hoffman said, "We're exploring a number of options but nothing has been determined at this point."

When asked if the footage would be used for the new ballot initiative aimed to stop the state's current aerial wolf hunting program, she says they haven't made any decisions. That ballot initiative is sponsored by Alaskans for Wildlife.

"In no way do we want to stop licensed and legal hunting and trapping of wolves. We just want to eliminate this rather broad-based mandate to eliminate numbers of wolves to artificially boost undulate numbers -- moose and caribou," said Nick Jans, a spokesman of Alaskans for Wildlife.

It will be the third time Alaska voters will decide the issue. It passed twice before, but in both cases the Legislature modified it, allowing hunting to resume in order to increase moose and caribou populations. One of those lawmakers was Sen. Thomas Wagoner, who says he'll do it again.

"It's very emotionally charged because people become emotional and some of them vote with bad information. I think we should -- I personally felt comfortable saying this is what [the Board of Game] has determined, this is what our game managers have determined. That's the people I will follow the lead on and I will do that again," said Wagoner, R-Kenai.

The issue has been debated for more than a decade and will remain controversial in years to come as voters see the initiative return on the November 2008 ballot.

According to Department of Fish and Game, 152 wolves were killed during the 2005-2006 season. So far this season, 30 have been taken. But wolf hunting picks up in the spring.

Alaskans for Wildlife would not confirm whether they were coordinating with Defenders for Wildlife in a possible ballot initiative campaign. All officials would confirm is that they have accepted "support" from Defenders of Wildlife.

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