of Wildlife Decries First Airborne Wolf Shooting Since Late
Alaska – Defenders of Wildlife today expressed outrage
over the confirmed killing of 14 wolves so far in Alaska's
Nelchina Basin by airborne private hunters. These are the
first wolves killed under Alaska's controversial new aerial
gunning program,and the first since the state legislature
overturned 1996 and 2000 statewide referendums that outlawed
statewide votes, Alaskans twice rejected aerial wolf
gunning, and twice the state legislature decided that
wealthy sport hunters are more important than Alaska
Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife. "Governor
Murkowski is backing the extermination of wolves across
an area the size of Texas, apparently with the goal of making
it so easy to bag a
moose that any thrill-seeker from the Lower-48 can do it.
It gives a black eye to hunting traditions and values, and
creates and image of Alaska that is anything but welcoming
Twenty-eight pilots obtained permits on January 22nd to kill
wolves in this area. No details are known at this point
in regards to the number of hunters that actually killed
wolves. Plans call for up to 140 wolves to be killed in
this area by April 30th.
objective of the program is to kill 80 percent of the wolves
in an 8,000 square mile area through land-and-shoot hunting
in an attempt to boost moose populations for hunters, despite
the fact that
insufficient data have been gathered on the number of wolves
and moose in this area. Aerial gunners can kill males, females
and even wolf pups as part of the program.
regular sport hunting, aerial gunning involves either shooting
from aircraft, or land-and-shoot hunting in which shooters
in aircraft chase wolves or other wildlife in deep snow until
the animals are too exhausted to move, and then land nearby
to make the kill.
"This aerial gunning program is designed to artificially
boost game populations, simply for the convenience of thousands
of sport hunters who descend on the Nelchina Basin every year,"
said Joel Bennett, a former member of the Alaska Board of
Game and a spokesman for Defenders of Wildlife. "It's
a triumph of raw politics over biology, and insults the voters
of the whole state."
citizens of Alaska have twice voted in statewide measures
(1996 and 2000) to ban the aerial killing of wolves. Nonetheless,
Governor Murkowski signed a bill last June overturning the
most recent ban.
of Wildlife is a leading nonprofit conservation organization
recognized as one of the nation's most progressive advocates
for wildlife and wildlife habitat. With more than 450,000
members and supporters nationwide, Defenders is an effective
leader on environmental issues.
Alaska Program Associate
Defenders of Wildlife
308 G Street, #310
Anchorage, AK 99501