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Alaska Aerial Wolf Kill Toll Surpasses 200

Hundreds More Wolves Targeted as Aerial Killing Programs Continue

Press Release / Defenders of Wildlife / March 4, 2005

Anchorage, Alaska -- The death toll from Alaska's aerial wolf killing program has reached at least 210, with hundreds more scheduled for elimination by April 30th. Wolves are being shot directly from airplanes, or being chased to exhaustion by aerial gunning teams, who then land and shoot the wolves point blank.

The citizens of Alaska have twice voted in statewide measures (1996 and 2000) to ban the aerial killing of wolves. Nonetheless, Governor Murkowski signed a bill two years ago overturning the most recent ban.

"It's deplorable that Governor Murkowski continues to back the extermination of wolves in key areas across the state even though his so- called predator control programs lack scientifically-based standards and guidelines to monitor the program," stated Karen Deatherage, Alaska Associate for Defenders of Wildlife. "Lower 48 and urban trophy hunters are clearly the only beneficiaries of the governor's ill-advised policy."

So far, over a hundred aerial gunning teams have obtained permits from the state to kill wolves in five relatively wild and pristine areas of interior Alaska. Plans call for up to 610 wolves to be killed in these areas by late spring. The programs are expected to last for four to five years.

Eighty grizzly bears, including sows and cubs, could also be killed this spring as part of the program. "These programs are the equivalent of short- sighted clear-cutting programs in our National Forests, only this time its wolves and bears instead of trees, in one of the few places in America where these animals still exist in natural, sustainable numbers," says Deatherage.

The objective of this year's program is to kill 80-100 percent of the wolves in a 50,000 square mile area in an attempt to boost moose populations for hunters, despite the fact that insufficient data has been gathered on the number of wolves and moose in this area. Aerial gunners can kill males, females and even wolf pups as part of the program.

Defenders of Wildlife is one of the nation's most progressive advocates for wildlife and habitat, and was named as one of America's Top 100 Charities by Worth magazine. With more than 480,000 members and supporters, Defenders is an effective voice for wildlife and habitat.


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