Friday, May 12, 2006

Alaska Board of Game Set to Expand the Aerial Gunning of Wolves and other Predator Control Measures

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - May 11 - The Alaska Board of Game is set to once again expand Alaska’s aerial gunning wolf control programs, despite overwhelming public opposition to aerial gunning by members of the public. The proposed changes could reduce wolf populations to less than ten percent of their original numbers over an area the size of Wyoming.

“The Alaska Board of Game continues to expand these senseless programs, even when adequate data is absent to justify them. This fails to conform to sound wildlife management practices,” said Valerie Brown, a spokesperson for Defenders of Wildlife.

Aerial gunning uses small low flying aircraft to chase wolves to exhaustion and then land and shoot them or shoot them from the air. In the three years since Alaska has begun issuing permits to pilots and gunners to conduct aerial-based wolf control more than 550 wolves have been killed. This year alone, more than 150 wolves were killed.

“This is not an issue of just a few wolves in a limited number of areas. The Alaska Board of Game wants to eliminate over 80 percent of the estimated wolf population across large portions of the state so hunters from urban areas and outside the state can have more moose and caribou to hunt,” said Brown. The Board is ignoring the fact that a majority of Alaskans oppose aerial gunning absent a biological emergency and is instead catering to the desires of a minority of hunters.”

The Anchorage Board of Game meeting is a continuation of the March annual spring meeting, so that predator control proposals that were not finalized can be reviewed and voted on.

Other proposals the board will consider include:

Classifying brown and black bears as furbearers, allowing them to be trapped and their fur sold;
Allowing same day airborne hunting and the harvest of females and young bears;
Extending the grizzly bear hunting season through June 30th; Implementing aerial gunning and predator killing plans for GMUs 14B, 16A, 19B, 25D and specific caribou herds;
Allowing the use of snow machines to pursue wolves and bears;
Extending wolf hunting season to May 31

“The board not only wants to expand the aerial gunning of wolves but now wants to move into the use of aircraft for controlling brown and black bears. It is very disheartening to see the board so willing to sacrifice Alaska’s natural heritage,” said Brown.

The Board will meet May 12 – 14, at the Atwood Building, Conference Room #240, 550 West 7th, Anchorage. A draft agenda and meeting materials can be found at http://www.boards.adfg.state.ak.us/gameinfo/meetinfo/gcal.php.

  • Common Dreams
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