Alaskan airborne wolf hunting resurfaces
According to a poll commissioned by Defenders of Wildlife in November, 56 percent of Alaskans oppose the same-day-air hunting of wolves
February 22, 1999
Web posted at: 12:00 PM EST
Two years after 58 percent of Alaskans voted to ban same-day air hunting of wolves, the state legislature has introduced a bill that would allow for federally condoned airborne wolf control.
Defenders of Wildlife, the environmental group that led the effort to restrict airborne wolf hunting, released a poll Feb. 18 that shows 70 percent of Alaskan voters oppose any effort to repeal the ban.
"In 1996 and again in late 1998, Alaskan voters made it clear that they don't want their wolves to be killed by same-day-air hunting," Defenders of Wildlife President Rodger Schlickeisen said in a statement. "Yet the state legislature does not seem to care what the citizens want and instead is intent on subverting the law to promote wolf control."
State Senator Pete Kelly, R-Fairbanks, introduced the bill, SB 74, Feb. 17.
The 1996 legislation repealed a law that allowed state officials and anyone with a $15 trapping license to use aircraft to fly over wolf habitat, land near wolf packs and hunt the animals provided the hunters stayed 100 yards away from the aircraft.
The initiative allowed the state to carry out limited wolf control by aircraft only in the case of a scientifically documented biological emergency when no other alternative was available.
Under state law, the legislature may attempt to repeal the same-day air hunting ban by a majority vote after Feb. 28, two years from the date when the initiative was certified.
SB 74 amends the current law by adding language giving the Alaska Department of Fish and Game or the state Board of Game authorization to implement unrestricted airborne wolf control by department personnel or private citizens operating under the department's authority.
The bill would also delete all references to the narrowly drawn exception in the case of a biological emergency.
According to the poll commissioned by Defenders of Wildlife in November, 56 percent of Alaskans oppose the same-day-air hunting of wolves. Seventy percent oppose any attempt to repeal the ban legislatively.
SB 74 is a move backed by Alaskan hunting groups. Another piece of legislation introduced in the House would amend the state constitution to require future wildlife or natural resource-related initiatives to pass by a two-thirds margin, rather than by a simple majority.
Copyright 1999, Environmental News Network, All Rights Reserved
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