The new state program aims to boost wolf kills by paying aerial gunners and pilots $150 for the left foreleg of wolves. The conservation groups, in their request for an injunction, argue the program is illegal primarily because the Legislature repealed laws allowing bounties in 1984.
The request was filed in state Superior Court by Defenders of Wildlife, the Alaska Wildlife Alliance, Friends of Animals and the Alaska chapter of the Sierra Club, a press release from the groups said.
State officials last week said the "incentive program" -- designed to boost wolf kills this spring -- is not a bounty because it's being offered to a select group of people for a select time and will yield scientific information. Past bounty programs were more widespread, they argued.
Only volunteer gunners and pilots permitted for the predator-control program -- there were 180 last week -- are eligible, they said. Before the cash payment program started, the state allowed volunteer hunters to keep the pelts. The new program lets them keep the pelts and receive the cash.
State officials said they shifted to the new program because this winter's wolf-kill program is behind schedule and the snow that allows pilots to track wolves is melting. The predator-control program was begun four years ago to boost moose numbers.
Reporter Alex deMarban can be reached at 257-4310.