State Resumes Predator Management Programs

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State wildlife officials on Friday began issuing new wolf control permits under new regulations unanimously approved by the Board of Game in response to concerns raised by a Superior Court judge.

Pilots participating in this winter's five predator management programs turned in their old permits and picked up new ones, and several said they planned to be flying this weekend.

Last week, the Anchorage Superior Court temporarily grounded the use of aircraft to take wolves because of technical inconsistencies in Board regulations. The Board met in emergency session for 8 1/2 hours Wednesday to address the court's concerns.

"I appreciate the quick action taken by the Board and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) in response to the ruling," said Governor Frank H. Murkowski. "I look forward to the continued success of our scientifically based predator management programs, most of which are only in their second year."p>

Emergency regulations authorizing resumption of the control plans were signed Thursday by Lieutenant Governor Loren Leman and are effective for 120 days. The Board will consider making the regulations permanent at its next regularly scheduled meeting in Fairbanks from March 10-20. Public testimony will be accepted.

The state originally issued permits to 157 pilots to reduce wolf numbers in the western Interior, northeast Alaska and two areas in Southcentral. The permitees had taken 24 wolves in the first six weeks of the program prior to the court’s ruling.

Last week, the court said the Board and ADF&G had complied with applicable state and federal laws, but there were conflicts in the Board's own regulations with regard to the type of information to be included in the predator management plans.

The original plans were written by different biologists in different areas of the state over the span of several years so they differed significantly. At its emergency meeting, the Board adopted a template for all the plans, and any future ones, to follow.

"A prolonged delay would have done considerable damage to efforts to restore depleted moose populations important to many segments of Alaska society, "said ADF&G Commissioner McKie Campbell. "Predator management plans typically are conducted for a minimum of five years to allow for uncontrolled variables like weather."