Democratic Representative George Miller of California presented a bill today in Washington, D.C., that aims to put an end to Alaska's aerial wolf control program. Miller says the Protect America's Wildlife Act, or PAW Act, would close a loophole in federal law. He says Alaska is exploiting the loophole to permit hunters to shoot and kill nearly 700 wolves from aircraft in the past several years. Miller -- former chairman of the Natural Resources committee -- said Alaska's wolf control program is illegal because it violates the Airborne Hunting Act, passed by Congress in 1972 to prohibit shooting or harassing animals from aircraft.
Miller says Alaska has gotten around the law by licensing peopleto shoot wolves under the guise of wildlife management and predator control. Denby Lloyd, commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said he hadn't yet had a chance to read Miller's bill. But he says his characterization of Alaska's predator control program as illegal was "unfortunate." Lloyd says the program is not a hunting program. He says it is a predator control program targeted at specific areas of the state.
Tim Barry from the Alaska Department of Fish & Game tells ABC Alaska News that the program is working, but the numbers of moose aren't rebounding quite as quickly as the state had hoped. The aerial program is focused in 5 areas in Alaska.