WASHINGTON -- Defenders of Wildlife filed an administrative
petition asking Interior Secretary Gale Norton to implement
and enforce the Federal Airborne Hunting Act (FAHA) in
Alaska to stop the state's practice of using airplanes
to chase down and kill wolves. The request comes after
the Secretary refused, in March, to issue clarifying
regulations and insisted that the wolf killing program
was permitted by the FAHA.
"It's patently obvious that Alaska is killing
wolves to artificially boost game populations for sport
and that's a clear violation of federal law. Alaska's
bull-headed insistence on wildlife mismanagement is not
only illegal, but ignores not one but two statewide referenda
banning airborne hunting. We know it's a novel idea for
this administration, but we want Secretary Norton to
do a simple thing -- enforce the law," stated Defenders
of Wildlife President Rodger Schlickeisen.
Currently, Alaska's airborne wolf killing program allows
hunters to slaughter wolves and wolf pups from the air
by either shooting from above, or by chasing them into
deep snow until they are trapped and too exhausted to
move. This clearly appears to be intended to increase
big game targets for sport hunting, a practice strictly
forbidden under the Act.
Since Governor Murkowski and the state legislature
overturned a statewide ban on airborne killing, passed
Alaska voters, nearly 150 wolves have been killed.
"The numbers of wolves slaughtered from aircraft
will only increase unless this gross mismanagement of
state's wildlife resources is kept in check by the Federal
Airborne Hunting Act," stated Karen Deatherage,
Alaska Program Associate for Defenders of Wildlife. "Already
the Alaska Board of Game has tripled the area covered
by the aerial killing program in 2005 to a total of 30,000
square miles of land. If not reversed, this decision
is a death sentence for nearly 2,500 wolves over the
next five years. Slaughter of this magnitude has just
one purpose, to radically and illegally alter the ecological
balance of large parts of Alaska."
* Federal Airborne Hunting Act
was passed in 1971, in large measure to
stop the aerial wolf killing in Alaska.
* In 1996, nearly 60% of Alaskans voted to ban same-day
hunting in Alaska.
* In 1998, a state-wide poll indicated that nearly
70% of Alaskan voters
opposed any attempt to repeal the 1996 ban.
* In 2000, Alaskans voted to reinstate the ban on same-day
aerial wolf killing by hunters by a margin of 54% to
* In 2003, Governor Murkowski signed into law Senate
Bill 155 to allow