Wolf Song of Alaska News

Alaskans Will Decide Aerial Wolf Control Issue

Rebecca Palsha / KTUU-TV / August 24, 2007


ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- One side calls it propaganda, the other calls it an educational tool.

The state has set aside $400,000 to talk about predator control and environmental groups say that's code for showing the benefits of aerial wolf hunting.

There is no word yet on exactly where the money will be spent: TV ads or mailers.

But environmental groups say, either way, it's still inappropriate.

Animal rights groups and the Department of Fish and Game don't agree about predator control.

And Fish and Game wants you to hear its side of the story. Ron Clarke with the Division of Wildlife Conservation at Alaska Department of Fish and Game says predator management serves an important function.

"Predator management is one tool of many we have and it's always controversial and high profile, but in certain areas of the state it's one of the things we can do to get moose and caribou numbers up and provide hunting and subsistence," said Clarke.

The $400,000 was put in the capitol budget to fund an education campaign about the issue.

But environmental groups say the real story is that Fish and Game is trying to convince the public that aerial wolf hunting is a good idea.

"So I don't know if it will be effective, but I think it's inappropriate to be allocating public money to propagandize its citizens," Tom Banks with the group Defenders of Wildlife argues.

Next August, voters will get a chance to weigh in on the issue. A ballot initiative on the August elections will ask voters if same-day airborne wolf hunting should be banned.

"More than 56,000 signatures were gathered last summer to put it on a ballot again so I don't know if it will be effective, but I think it's inappropriate," Banks said.

But Fish and Game says its goal is not to tell people what to think or how to vote. Rather, it says it's trying to educate.

"The department is a science-based agency and the goal here is to provide as much information to the public as possible so the public understands what does this mean," Clarke said.

What it means is up to Alaskans to decide.

Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell approved the ballot initiative after the sponsors dropped off the more than 56,000 signatures in support of the issue.

Fish and Game had offered a $150 bounty for every wolf killed, but the State Superior Court stopped that idea before any money was paid, saying the department lacked the authority to offer any cash.

Contact Rebecca Palsha at rpalsha@ktuu.com

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