Wolf Song of Alaska News

More Howling: State Reminded of Duty to Watch Steps on Predator Control

Editorial / Fairbanks Daily News-Miner / March 15, 2008

The Alaska Board of Game has a tough job, and few would volunteer to take a seat in the searing spotlight that board members sometimes share. Likewise, our Alaska Department of Fish and Game can't seem to find a truly popular position.

Alaska's wildlife is too dear to too many people for too many different reasons. Someone is almost always going to get upset when decisions are made.

At the same time, the lengthy ruling Friday by state Superior Court Judge William F. Morse, which will invalidate a few Interior wolf control programs currently underway - but only for a short time while easy administrative fixes are made - seems an unnecessary distraction, expense and political hit against active game management.

Groups like Friends of Animals, Defenders of Wildlife and the Alaska Wildlife Alliance have applied a magnifying glass to the state's steps on predator control for many years. That's their job in representing their constituents. And in a state with public processes for game management decisions, their perspective - and likely challenges - must always be kept in mind.

It would be unfair to advise the state to avoid sitting on anthills if it doesn't want ants in its pants. It's likely that the clever opposition to wolf control will always find an angle for attack.

However, memories of lawsuits like the one ruled upon Friday should reside firmly in the minds of board members and managers as they look at any kind of motion that involves predator control - even if it's a matter of moving boundaries or raising or lowering population objectives.

State legal counsel are usually at the board's disposal. Perhaps they just missed a spot in this latest go-round.

The judge's decision Friday mostly reaffirmed that the state is doing things correctly as it sets up wolf control policies, and that is truly a good thing. However, the state still gets a little black mark when its paperwork is not in order. And no matter how carefully plans have been considered, the little black marks give the appearance of cavalier attitudes.

Our game management programs are serious business, and all - not just most - need to hold up in court.

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