Gov. Sarah Palin introduced a bill (HB 256/SB 176) to give the Board of Game even more power to authorize the killing of wolves and bears to "control" natural predation. The board has already enacted programs requiring the reduction of wolf and bear populations by 60 percent to 80 percent over huge areas, mostly to benefit urban hunters and commercial guides. The bill removes the few standards that restrict when the board may authorize aerial shooting of wolves and bears.
Apparently the Palin administration also has a secret motive. Almost 57,000 Alaskans signed a petition to put an initiative on the August 2008 ballot to ban same-day airborne and aerial shooting of wolves, wolverines and bears. In 1996 and 2000 Alaskans voted for similar bans, but the Legislature overturned them. If the bill passes, the Palin administration will likely try to take the initiative off the ballot, claiming the Legislature already enacted something substantially similar.
There is no pressing reason why the bill has to be considered now, before the August vote. The governor and Legislature should let Alaskans vote. They both need to come clean concerning the initiative before any further legislative action.
-- John Toppenberg, director
Alaska Wildlife Alliance