Alaska., Nov. 4 / U.S. Newswire --
Alaska Board of Game approved permits that will allow the shooting
of large numbers of wolves either directly from airplanes or after
chasing the animals to the point of exhaustion and then landing the
aircraft to kill the them on foot. The Board's decision came despite
the fact that twice Alaskans have voted to ban the practice (1996 and
2000) in statewide referenda.
"The voters of Alaska have twice rejected this practice," said Karen Deatherage,
Alaska Program Associate for Defenders of Wildlife. "The State Legislature, the
Governor, and now the Game Board have trampled on the voters' wishes and opened
the door to the wholesale slaughter of hundreds of wolves. Senator Lisa Murkowski
is on record opposing this practice; we need her to step forward and speak out
on behalf of Alaska's voters."
The areas approved for aerial wolf control include almost two thousand square
miles in interior Alaska. Land and shoot killings will also occur in an enormous
area just east of Anchorage where it is estimated that 80 percent of the wolves
could die as a result of this renewed practice. Other massive areas throughout
Alaska are also being considered for similar permits which will likely be approved
at the winter Board of Game meeting this March.
Due to weather conditions, biologists have been unable to accurately survey moose
populations in the control area around McGrath since 2001, when they found over
twice as many moose as were thought to exist then in previous years. "These plans
are based on bad data or no data at all. Are the moose declining, or are we simply
dealing with dissatisfied hunters? The science suggests the latter," says Deatherage.
Alaska is home to the largest remaining population of gray wolves in the United
States. Scientists estimate some 7,000 to 9,000 wolves roam the state. But unlike
wolves in the lower 48 states, wolves in Alaska are not afforded protection under
the Endangered Species Act, and wolf hunting is allowed in ninety-five percent
of the state. In the past five years, over 7,500 wolves were killed through hunting
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