Anchorage Alaska - Yesterday, on the final day of their quarterly meeting the Board of Game (BoG) released details of a controversial "public education" campaign designed to promote the state's predator control programs. The campaign will be funded by $400,000 of public money and is timed to influence Alaska voters as they go to the polls to decide whether to end the aerial shooting of wolves and bears by private hunters under the guise of predator control.
The campaign comes less than a year in advance of an August 2008 ballot measure seeking to again end the aerial shooting of wolves and bears, the primary method used in the state's expansive predator control programs administered by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG). Alaska citizens have twice voted to restrict the practice of aerial shooting of wolves-- first in 1996 and again in 2000. Both times, the state legislature overturned the will of the people, allowing the practice to continue. Nearly 500 wolves have been shot by permittees in private aircraft over the past two years.
"This issue is scheduled for a vote next year," said Alaskans for Wildlife representative and former Board of Game member Joel Bennett, sponsor of the current ballot initiative "and this so-called education campaign is a thinly disguised ploy to use public funds to intrude in the democratic process and influence voters."
Nick Jans, co-sponsor of the initiative added, "The timing of this campaign shows its true purpose. Government has no business using public money to create propaganda to oppose the public will. The whole thing smacks of Big Brotherism and is as un-Alaskan as it gets."
The $400,000 of public money will be spent on the campaign in the following ways:
|Publishing a "white paper" and a large brochure
|Publishing a small brochure
|Producing a PowerPoint and DVDs
| Travel for BOG and ADFG employees to deliver information
|| $ 50,000
| Total Public Money
"Public money used to present one side of a controversial issue is at best unethical, especially when hundreds of scientists have examined the aerial program, finding it did not meet any accepted scientific standards." added John Toppenberg, Director of Alaska Wildlife Alliance.
Alaska is the only state in the United States which allows private hunters to use planes to shoot wolves and assist in shooting bears. To date, the state government has spent over $2 million on the aerial shooting program which has resulted in the killing of nearly 500 wolves.