Game Board Expands Wolf Control Program

The Associated Press / Fairbanks Daily News-Miner / December 17, 2003

ANCHORAGE--The Alaska Board of Game is moving ahead with plans to expand lethal wolf control in the state.

Board members reaffirmed a plan Monday to kill about 40 wolves near the Interior town of McGrath and approved plans to kill about 100 wolves in the Nelchina basin early next year.

The board also paved the way for hunters on snowmachines to help out in the new wolf-kill programs after it approved radio and cellular telephone communication between ground and air.

The decisions were made during a teleconference held at the Department of Fish and Game in Anchorage. Outside, about two dozen protesters wearing wolf masks and waving signs demonstrated against the state's aerial wolf-kill program in McGrath.

The board also revisited nearly two dozen Western Alaska hunting and trapping proposals. On each issue, the board considered new information or testimony on the subject and then voted.

The board spent more than four hours on wolf control. Board chairman Mike Fleagle said the issues were given careful consideration because the board may have to defend itself in court.

"You know how these findings are being ripped apart by opponents of this program," he said.

Although state attorneys successfully defended the board's McGrath wolf-control plan in court last month, the board reconfirmed the program. It adopted written findings and supplemented its previous plan with additional information.

None of the basics of the McGrath plan changed. The state still wants private pilot-gunner teams to shoot 40 to 45 wolves in a 1,700-square-mile area near McGrath.

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