Anchorage, Alaska - State Superior Court Judge Bill Morse has ordered Alaska to stop paying pilots and aerial gunners to kill wolves.
State Superior Court Judge Bill Morse has ordered Alaska to stop paying pilots and aerial gunners to kill wolves. The judge said the cash payments are bounties, and the state Department of Fish and Game didn't have legal authority to offer them.
The judge said the cash payments are bounties, and the state Department of Fish and Game didn't have legal authority to offer them.
Three conservation organizations filed a motion to stop the program.
From a Defenders of Wildlife press release: A state Superior Court judge today issued a temporary restraining order blocking the state from paying a $150 bounty to permittees who kill wolves as part of the predator control programs. The decision is a result of a motion filed by Defenders of Wildlife, the Alaska Wildlife Alliance and the Alaska Chapter of the Sierra Club earlier this week that challenged the legal authority of the state to issue bounties.
The governor had recently authorized the bounty to serve as an incentive to aerial gunners to kill more wolves in the control areas since the State has said it is not meeting its goal of predator kills. The State is targeting over 600 wolves, a number Defenders challenges because it is not based on sound, scientific data, but on faulty, anecdotal guesses.
"We are pleased the bounty program is temporarily stopped. We believe that the reason the number of wolves that have been killed this year is lower than desired is because the state relied on outdated and incomplete information about the wolf populations in the control areas. The state should put the money that was allocated for the bounty program toward conducting a proper survey of the wolf populations before any more wolves are shot by aerial gunners," stated Tom Banks, Defenders of Wildlife's Alaska associate.
"We expect Governor Palin to listen to Alaskans. Voters have twice voted to restrict Alaska's aerial gunning programs and they want to put an end to them," said Banks. "We've said since the start of these programs the state does not have reliable scientific information on how many wolves are in these areas. Until they do, and can provide a sound scientific basis of a biological emergency that needs to be remedied by aerial shooting, the public will not support these programs."
Trish Rolfe in the Alaska office of the Sierra Club said, "We applaud the court's decision, and believes it is a great step in the right direction. Alaskans have made their voices heard, and it is clear that voters want to see an end to aerial gunning of wolves. We urge Governor Palin to stand up for the will of the people, and put this program on hold."
The Plaintiffs are represented by Mike Frank, of Trustees for Alaska, a public-interest environmental law firm, and by Valerie Brown, an Anchorage attorney in private practice.