"I am stopping this program" - Judge Morse
Toward the end of an hour and a half hearing, those were among the words used to at least temporarily stop the state from giving airborne gunners $150 per dead wolf.
Once again the state has failed to follow regulations in their zeal to decimate a species vital to the health of Alaska's ecosystems. Responding to a narrowly focused special interest group, the Alaska Outdoor Council, the Governor via the commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game implemented a wolf bounty program designed to artificially inflate moose numbers. For now that program is toast.
A question that was not answered is: Will the shooters of wolves already killed under this program receive bounty payments? We estimate approximately 50 airborne kills may have taken place since the program was announced 10 days ago.
What's next? No date has been set for the next court action. The Board of Game can meet in emergency session and adopt an emergency bounty regulation, but implementation of that before 30 days have lapsed would require the state to prove to the court that a definable emergency exists. This seems doubtful with available information. Another option would be for the Governor and Commissioner to send out the helicopters and bypass the bounty issue. The price tag for that action should weigh heavily on a Governor that is flat lining or cutting important budget items.
What can we do? Letters to the editor are an incredibly effective means of bringing public pressure on the State/Governor to first, not attempt to resurrect the bounty program, and secondly, not implement a helicopter wolf eradication program which is contrary to accepted science and the will of the voters as expressed in 1996 and 2000. Please don't forget a personal letter to Governor Palin letting her know that voting Alaskans and interested Americans who appreciate wildlife of all species expect her to keep her word on responsive governance, even if it conflicts with her personal views.
A heartfelt thank you to the legal team as well as the other plaintiff organizations, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Alaska Chapter of the Sierra Club for quick and effective action. This battle is not over, but we have won an impressive first round victory.
Please forward this to those you know who might be interested.
Thank you for caring about Alaska's wildlife,