The runway has been cleared for an air-born wolf kill in a 1700 square mile
area around McGrath. The plan to thin wolf packs was first passed by the Alaska
Board of Game at the beginning of November. But environmental activists sued
to stop the plan. Today, a Superior Court Judge in Anchorage denied the preliminary
injunction against aerial wolf hunting.
The legal battle isn't over by a long shot. But today's ruling does mean that
while the lawsuit makes it way through the courts, aerial hunting teams are free
to go ahead with the wolf kill.
Wildlife lobbyists are hoping those teams won't do that, hoping tat the Department
of Fish and Games will have them hold off until this issue gets settled. But
there have already been three permits issued for the wolf kill and in all likelihood,
those pilot hunter teams will now take to the air.
Their goal will be to kill off 40 to 45 wolves in the McGrath area. By removing
those wolves, they hope to make more room for moose, and less competition for
hunters who need moose meat to subsist.
But those who brought suit trying to stop the aerial wolf kill say it won't work...
that the moose population is stressed by hunters much more than wolves. And they
argue that hunting animals from the air is dangerous.
"But what we've got is permits being handed out to the general public.. to do
fly bys... take pot shots at wolves. There are going to be injured wolves as
well as those that are killed... It's a mess," said Dr. Paul Joslin, Alaska Wildlife
The Alaska Wildlife Alliance has company in the lawsuit. They are joined by seven
other plaintiffs, including a group of activists called "Friends of Animals" based
in Connecticut. That group, without the support of the Alaska Wildlife Alliance,
has threatened a tourism boycott of the State if the aerial wolf hunting plan
isn't overturned. And that could hurt the State's second largest industry.
"The reality is, we'll feel the impact... we don't now what the severity will
be," said Ron Peck Alaska Travel Industry Association. "I'd just like to say
we have folks in the tourism industry that are on both side of the fence... so
it's a real challenge for us."
The Alaska Wildlife Alliance says the majority of Alaskans don't support the
aerial wolf kill. And they say today's decision is just a first step in the legal
side of this battle. Now the environmental groups are huddling-up, trying to
figure out their next legal move.
In her ruling Judge Gleason said the wolf kill was legal, mostly based on an
amendment to the existing aerial hunting laws. That amendment was passed in May
of this year.