The state's controversial aerial wolf-control program is back at full throttle after the Alaska Board of Game held an emergency meeting on Friday to address legal shortfalls cited by an Anchorage judge two weeks ago.
The game board made the necessary changes to parts of two predator control plans that were added to the original control areas in 2006, which prompted a lawsuit by several groups opposed to the killing of wolves.
The state shut the aerial program down in both areas for a week after a Superior Court judge ruled on March 14 that the game board had erred by expanding two of the areas in which pilot-gunner teams with state permits can hunt wolves from airplanes. The game board simply rescinded the old plans for the areas and adopted new ones.
"They basically fixed what the judge said needed to be fixed," Cathie Harms, spokeswoman for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Fairbanks, said. "By Friday afternoon, the programs were back active again."
The two areas were the Fortymile region between the Taylor and Steese Highways north and east of Fairbanks and unit 16A, across the Cook Inlet from Anchorage. They are two of five areas in which the game board has approved aerial predator control.
Pilot-gunner teams have reported taking 81 wolves in the five control areas thus far this winter. The program will be suspended when conditions deteriorate to the point that pilots can no longer land planes to collect the wolves.
Priscilla Feral, executive director for the Connecticut-based animal-rights group Friends of Animals, which is one of three groups that filed a lawsuit against the game board to halt the state's aerial wolf-control program, called the action a sham.
"The (game board) and their apologists in the bureaucracy have a reputation as a nursery for nitwit schemes," she wrote in an e-mail regarding Friday's emergency meeting. "When the courts have ruled that the state's aerial wolf-shooting schemes are breaking the law, within days, the Board of Game concocts new rules.
"Clearly, they make stuff up, their process is a sham and they just want to shoot wolves everywhere in Alaska. This is an abuse of power."
Contact staff Writer Tim Mowry at 459-7587.