Wolf Song of Alaska News

Critic Challenges Removal of Denali Wolf Buffer Zone

AP / Fairbanks Daily News-Miner / March 12, 2010

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska - An opponent of an Alaska Board of Game decision to eliminate a wolf protective buffer zone outside Denali National Park and Preserve wants the tie-breaking vote invalidated because it was cast by a man who sells wolf traps and owns a tannery business.

Rick Steiner, an advocate for wolf protection, said Al Barrette stands to see a financial gain from his vote and should have recused himself. Steiner has submitted a challenge to Gov. Sean Parnell, attorney general Dan Sullivan and Fish and Game commissioner Denby Lloyd, asking them to toss Barrette's vote.

The board voted 4-3 on March 5 to eliminate the buffer zones in a narrow wedge of state land that juts into the national park's northeastern corner, and the buffer zone along the Parks Highway.

Parnell appointed Barrette in February. He has not been confirmed by the Legislature but is considered an official board member until that happens.

Barrette said he based his vote on laws, boundaries and biology. He said if he followed Steiner's reasoning, he would have to recuse himself from every issue that goes before the board.

"So would every (board) member with a hunting license," Barrette told the Anchorage Daily News.

Barrette said he sells traps throughout the U.S. and Canada and does not target customers who take wolves at Denali Park.

Only the state attorney general could potentially change the outcome of the Board of Game's decision, said Kevin Saxby, the state's Fish and Game law adviser. He noted that a formal challenge must be processed under the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act, a step Steiner has yet to take.


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