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Judge finds game board failed to follow rules on wolf control

January 17, 2006 | Wolves
By MARY PEMBERTON, Associated Press Writer

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Alaska's lethal wolf control program under which hundreds of wolves have been killed is illegal, a judge ruled Tuesday in a victory for a Connecticut-based animal rights group.

In a case going back to November 2003, Superior Court Judge Sharon Gleason ruled that the state failed to follow its own regulation when authorizing the aerial wolf control program, where pilot and gunner teams were allowed to shoot the wolves from the air.

Given the judge's ruling, the program has been suspended, Matt Robus, director of the state Division of Wildlife Conservation, said soon after the judge issued her ruling. People with permits to kill wolves in the five areas of the state where the program is under way were being notified, he said.

"Meanwhile, our attorney is still analyzing what the judge had to say. Based on what we hear from him we will decide if there are technical things can be addressed or whether it is bigger than that," Robus said.

Gleason, who went over more than 2,000 pages of documents offered by the state, found that the Alaska Board of Game did not follow some or all of the state regulations when authorizing the program in the five areas.

The court found "that the Board of Game failed to adhere to its own regulation regarding the control of predation by wolves when it adopted these aerial control plans," Gleason said in her 32-page ruling.

More precisely, the state failed to provide required justification for the program, including previous measures that failed to work, Gleason said. The game board also failed to explain why alternative means for reducing the number of wolves would not work, the judge said.

"The Board is bound by its regulations," Gleason said. "A review of the enabling regulations for aerial wolf control programs ... indicates that the Board failed to adequately address some or all of these regulatory requirements in each of the applicable GMU (game management units) in which it has authorized wolf control."

The ruling was a long-awaited victory for Friends of Animals, a Darien, Conn.-based animal rights group that led the fight against the wolf-killing program and previously had failed to get the judge to issue an emergency injunction to stop it.

"She has ruled that the wolf control program is invalid and all the underlying regulations are invalid," said Friends of Animals president Priscilla Feral, who added she was "tremendously gratified with Judge Gleason's ruling."

"It (the law) requires that they have data and present the data and establish the facts that are required in those regulations. They can't just make stuff up," said the plaintiffs' lawyer, James Reeves of Anchorage.

Robus said it was too early to tell if the program can be salvaged.

"I'm not sure what the procedure is to fix it is. I think ... we need to evaluate what Judge Gleason had to say and what action to take."

The program is aimed at boosting the number of moose and caribou in areas where residents say wolves are killing too many, leaving them with too few for food. State biologists estimate that Alaska has 7,000 to 11,000 wolves. Robus has said there are some early indications that the program is working.

Since the program began in 2003, more than 400 wolves have been killed. The state set a goal of another 400 this winter. The state issued more than 100 new permits last month.


My hats off to Judge Gleason, to do whats right!

Ellie, and FoA congratulations. although we have disagreed in the past, and probably will in the future, you and your organization have fought for what you believe in and should be commended. jimmy allen

Congratulations to FoA and thanks to Judge Gleason. The aerial wolf kill has always been among the most abhorrent of predator control techniques. I have for years been amazed - and appalled - that anyone could support this. To Alaskans who do not support this decision: you make the mistake of assuming all Alaskans favor predator eradication. Wolf populations are "thinned" in order to provide more caribou and other targets for hunters. Therefore it is done in the name of a small percentage of the state's population.

I feel so bad that all those wolves have to die, All for progress. If any thing they have more rights to live as they were here before we were as many other animals, they roamed free all over. then man came and took their land away. Its time to take a stand and realize that as we kill these creatures off soon there will be no more, and once they are gone soon man will be too.

Why should we stay out of Alaskas business? You do things your way? Guess you sure do "ILLEGALLY". Just like the rest of the country and world. They kill illegally or make up lies and unfounded reasons why Wildlife needs to be hunted and killed. There is TOO MUCH animal/wildlife killing going on just to satisfy hunters who just want to kill for the sport. I see hunters breaking rules all the time? What makes hunting hunting, when most of the time the hunters leave food to attract the animal then kill them while they are eating.How cruel is that.They are not real hunters . What is a hunter? KILLERS OF ANIMALS". To use arial killing on wolves is not hunting but again the thrill to kill. There is No Need to kill the wolves.

Yahooooooooooooo! Way to go. Keep up the good work.

I am glad to hear that this idiotic blood sport has been suspended. I hope this does not create a lack of vigilance to stop such actions. Where there are people who love to kill, just to kill, new ways and pressures to allow killing will always resurface. "Blood Sport" by definition IS NOT A SPORT, a sport is pitting TWO EQUALLY MATCHED INDIVIDUALS, OR TEAMS IN A CONTEST. What these "Hunters" fail to recognize is that wolves ultimately strengthen the herds by taking out the sick and the lame, leaving the stongest members of the herds to procreate. "Hunters" on the other hand, try to take the best trophy animals, leaving only the lesser animals to carry on the blood line. If these hunters were really SPORTSMEN, lets see them give anilmals an equal chance at winning. Outrun an elk or deer and take it down. Face a Grizzly armed with a knife. There is no sport,or honor in shooting an animal from a plane, or sitting up in a tree and ambushing your prey. Wolves only hunt to survive, they don't hunt for trophies, or hunt as a vain attempt to feel like they are tough, because they can kill something. HUNTERS ARE NOT SPORTS,OR MEN. In the circle of life, wolves have a place, and it is not in the best interest of anyone to break natures natural cycle.

One word - HOORAY!!!! Judge Gleason should be stop the killing of these majestic, beatiful creatures is magnificent. Very happy news!!! Vida M. Georgacopulos

Hooray for FOA!!!! You continue your long and splendid history of defense of the defenseless. I remember reading about this aerial hunt back in the 60"s... when one wolf (thanks be to the Almighty!) actually managed to leap up and take down a helicopter which was harassing him close to the ground. The press painted this as further "proof" of how "dangerous" and "deadly" are wolves. Unbelievable. So here we are again, all these years later, still listening to the tired, pathetic arguments against wolves. Will we ever learn?

Ethan wrote: "Worry about your own problems. Stay out of Alaska's business. We take care of our own problems our way. Have you ever lived here? Do you know what it truly means to be alaskan. It is nothing like the lower 48's. We do things a lot differently here." Dear Ethan, What you do THERE effects us HERE and guess what? EVERYWHERE. Just because man compartmentalized the world doesn't necessarily mean that the PLANET agrees. The ankle connects to the shin bone, the shin bone connects to the knee bone...