In My View
Despite lobbying pressure by Arctic Power, the newfangled Labor Environment Alliance conspired by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy, oil drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was rejected by the Senate in a 52-48 vote in March.
Thanks to everyone who pressed Congress to leave the Coastal Plain of the Arctic Refuge as untouched wilderness, and to aim instead for new technologies and stricter oil conservation measures.
Thanks also for heeding our call in the Spring Act•ionLine, to express your spirited opposition to Alaska’s Gov. Frank Murkowski over his Board of Game’s helicopter shot-gunning scheme for wolves, and for your commitment to a tourism boycott if FoA calls for one in Alaska. The boycott announcement would follow Murkowski’s move to allow the state to proceed with any state-sanctioned predator-control program that targets wolves. As we go to press, that hasn’t yet happened.
During FoA’s testimony before Alaska’s Board of Game in March, I said: “If the Board of Game convinces Governor Murkowski to approve the proposal, and appease the predator-control minority, as opposed to most Alaskans and wildlife-watching tourists who denounce shot-gunning wolves from helicopters, FoA will initiate demonstrations and protests all over the country, and internationally — matching every dollar you devote to predator-control in organizing an offensive.
“We’ll run a series of high-profile ads in major dailies and through other mediums, urging a tourism boycott of Alaska like those launched by Friends of Animals in the early 1990s, and prior to the cancellation of Alaska’s wolf control programs in 1993. And, as before, our focus will be to form a broad-based coalition of people who respect wildlife, and who book summer cruises and visits to Alaska with tourist agencies during the key months of November 2003 through January 2004.”
Several weeks later, Murkowski announced he won’t allow the use of helicopters or state employees to kill the wolves as part of a predator-control program around McGrath.
“Now, the wolves are unlikely to be eliminated, game board member Ted Spraker told a legislative committee,” the Anchorage Daily News reported.
Yet, Murkowski indicated he’d support a massacre of wolves by local residents with the use of private aircraft, to which FoA replied: “Whether it is aircraft or helicopters or unlimited snow-machine hunting, if it’s done to accomplish predator control to make moose hunting more convenient, it’s all the same to us.” I added that FoA would file a lawsuit if the state proceeds with any predator-control program that kills wolves.
Alaska voters banned same-day aerial wolf hunting in 1996, and again in 2000 after state legislators reinstated it. However, in a chaotic chain of events in Spring 2003, the Alaska Board of Game unearthed and approved a proposal for same-day airborne wolf hunting across major regions of interior Alaska — even though the ballot measures twice prohibited this activity. Further, a March poll conducted by Dittman Research Corporation determined that voters’ views toward aerial wolf shooting had not changed.
Next, state Sen. Ralph Seekins, a friend of Murkowski’s, and Rep. Hugh Fate introduced bills in Juneau designed to overturn the prohibition of land-and-shoot (read: shoot and land) wolf hunting — otherwise known as a frontal assault on Alaska’s voters and wolves. In mid-April, Seekins amended the bill to allow the Board of Game to implement its own recommendations for aerial predator-control programs without Murkowski’s authorization.
We’ve asked FoA’s Alaska members to tell their legislators to reject the two aerial wolf-killing measures, but Alaska’s legislative session runs until May 21, so this issue is not resolved as we go to press. Whatever happens, the buck stops with the governor. He can veto a bill passed by Alaska’s legislators, or he can face a possible lawsuit, another voter initiative, and a tourism boycott in November.