Governor Murkowski Pans Latest Predator-Control Legislation

Juneau Empire / The Associated Press / May 13, 2003


Gov. Frank Murkowski opposes the latest version of a bill aimed at allowing wolf killing to save moose.

The latest draft of Sen. Ralph Seekins' predator control bill is "unacceptable" because it would cut the governor and administration out of much of the process of designing and implementing such a program, the governor said.

"My opinion ... is that still leaves any action by the board, in the sense of responsibility, the responsibility of the state, and the state is represented by the branches of government," Murkowski told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. "So you can't duck the responsibility just because the board may be given an authority. The whole image rests within the state."

Senate Bill 155, which passed the Senate last weekend, would allow the Board of Game to implement predator control programs, such as a wolf-killing plan the board proposed for the McGrath area. The bill would change language to allow land-and-shoot predator control by civilians.

The bill would make further changes that would minimize the participation of the commissioner of Fish and Game and the governor in the process.

Under the proposal, Fish and Game would supply data about predators and prey. The Game Board could use that data to enact a predator-control program without approval from the commissioner, which it must have now.

The board could not appropriate funds for a program but could enact one using authorized private citizens and aircraft.

Seekins, a Fairbanks Republican, said the change would take politics out of the predator control process.

"What we said was, these decisions should be made on the best available science, not on politics," Seekins said Friday before the House Resources Committee, which was hearing the bill. "This decision now is as apolitical as it comes."

The attempt by the law to cut the governor out of the process was not successful, according to Matt Robus of Fish and Game. An airborne wolf control program would violate federal law without certain permits issued by the administration.

"The state still will have a significant role, no matter what is done with this statute," he said.

Robus also said the governor finds the bill unacceptable because of the significant reduction of the commissioner's power.

The House Resources Committee voted to move the bill with the same language passed by the Senate.

Murkowski would not say whether he would veto the bill if passed.

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