Group Takes Aim at Wolf Kill

Animal-rights activist threatens to organize a boycott of Alaskan tourism

Calgary Sun / Associated Press / December 7, 2003

ANCHORAGE -- An Alaskan judge has rejected an attempt by an animal-rights group to stop a state-sponsored program allowing hunters to shoot wolves from airplanes in Alaska. The move opens the door to a threatened country-wide tourism boycott targeting Alaska's $2-billion US tourism business, the same tactic that halted a similar wolf eradication effort a decade ago.
Connecticut-based Friends of Animals and seven Alaska plaintiffs asked Superior Court Judge Sharon Gleason to grant a preliminary injunction to stop the shooting, part of a wolf control program intended to boost the moose population in some areas.
Gleason refused to grant the injunction and lifted a temporary restraining order that had kept three pilot-and-hunter teams grounded since Nov. 26.
Friends of Animals president Priscilla Feral said she is considering the possibility of further legal action, but declined to elaborate.
"We're hoping what the state won't do is rush out and annihilate the wolves," she said.
In an interview earlier this week, Feral pledged to organize a tourism boycott if the state insists on killing wolves.
Friends of Animals, which touts 200,000 members, was behind a previous tourism boycott that resulted in then-Gov. Walter Hickel imposing a moratorium on wolf control in 1992.
During that boycott, Friends of Animals launched 53 demonstrations called "howl-ins" in 51 cities around the country.
The state wants to kill the wolves in approximately a 4,400-sq.-km area near the village of McGrath.
The program began this spring with the relocation of 75 black bears and eight grizzlies. State wildlife biologists say moving the bears increased the summer survival rate of moose calves by about 20%.
Such methods of controlling the wolf population have been an emotionally-charged issue in Alaska for decades. Before statehood in 1959, shooting wolves from airplanes was common practice. But aerial sport hunting was banned in 1972. The law, however, did allow for aerial shooting for predator control.
Alaska voters in 1996 and 2000 banned a similar practice.

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