Alaska wolf bounty halted
Wolves are protected in the continental United States, but numbers are greater in Alaska, where they are managed as predators.
Restraining order blocks $150 boundy to kill wolves as part of predator control program
by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
April 3, 2007
Last Friday, an Alaska Superior Court judge issued a temporary restraining order blocking the state from paying a $150 bounty to permittees who kill wolves as part of the predator control programs. The decision is a result of a motion filed by Defenders of Wildlife, the Alaska Wildlife Alliance and the Alaska Chapter of the Sierra Club earlier in the week that challenged the legal authority of the state to issue bounties.
The governor had recently authorized the bounty to serve as an incentive to aerial gunners to kill more wolves in the control areas since the State has said it is not meeting its goal of predator kills. The state is targeting over 600 wolves, a number Defenders challenges because it is not based on sound, scientific data, but on faulty, anecdotal guesses.
"We are pleased the bounty program is temporarily stopped. We believe that the reason the number of wolves that have been killed this year is lower than desired is because the state relied on outdated and incomplete information about the wolf populations in the control areas. The state should put the money that was allocated for the bounty program toward conducting a proper survey of the wolf populations before any more wolves are shot by aerial gunners," stated Tom Banks, Defenders of Wildlife's Alaska associate.
The temporary restraining order noted that although state wildlife department officials termed the bounties as “incentives,” the court noted, "The payment of money for each wolf killed by a permittee is a bounty pure and simple.”
The court ruled that only the state game board could issue such bounties, not the department. The order indicated that the issue could be resolved by simple rule-making by the board, which the department could then implement.
Photo by Cat Urbigkit, file photo