Dear Bent,

Finally, the wolves won. Then Alaska’s Board of Game changed the rules.

On the 17th of January, Alaska’s Superior Court declared that the aerial wolf control scheme, in which people in aircraft chase wolves to exhaustion and then shoot them, is invalid.

The Court examined over 2,000 documents to discover that the airborne hunting permits, issued to boost moose populations for human hunters, flew in the face of the Board of Game’s own regulations.

We’re talking serious problems. For one region (Upper Yukon/Tanana), Board members adopted findings to rationalize aerial gunning over 600 square miles. But they put 10,000 square miles into the aerial scheme.

Since 2003, 445 wolves have been gunned down. The state set a goal of another 400 this season, and issued over 100 new permits in December. The hunting permits were recalled. Our win, promptly described by the Associated Press, gained the immediate attention of environmentalists, advocates, and journalists worldwide.

But just as people began to rejoice in a hard-won success, Alaska’s Board of Game called an emergency meeting -- as though its lack of competence in adhering to its own rules is properly called an emergency.

There have been far too many objections from Alaskan residents themselves over years to act as though the problem hit the Board out of the blue.

Friends of Animals attended the “emergency” meeting where the Board of Game changed the regulations after the fact. We heard that there was an emergency because someone had just finished “anualling” (performing annual maintenance on) their expensive aircraft. And we heard the view that the “emergency” involved saving the reputation of the Board of Game.

Ten days after the wolves prevailed in Court, we returned, seeking a Temporary Restraining Order to stop the Game Board’s “emergency” circumvention.

That was a Friday.

Board shenanigans continued through the following Sunday, the 29th of January, when the Board just flat-out repealed requirements for public notice and input regarding wolf and bear control.

It also repealed all requirements and limitations that apply generally to wolf control -- the very bases for the Court's initial January ruling that existing wolf control plans are invalid!

The Board’s decision to re-write its rules was unanimous.

These changes are geared to ward off legal challenges. The state's attorney and the Game Board want the changes enacted by the scheduled Board meeting in March.

If this stands, officials can simply sally forth and perform predator control deemed consistent with "any applicable predation control implementation plan adopted by the board."

There’s more.

For the first time in history, Alaskans can legally sell bear hides. The Board of Game decided to apply this rule in a part of northeastern Alaska, and the interior areas where aerial wolf hunting has been allowed. Skulls can also be sold. The changes could be in effect by the spring.

The Board did this to be able to claim, in light of the Superior Court’s questions, that it’s trying alternatives to boost moose numbers. Blood seems to drip from the Board’s answer to every question it’s ever asked.  Yet, as Alaska wildlife biologist Jeff Fair wrote in the Anchorage Daily News, “the dynamic balances of ecosystems depend upon a formula far more complex than simply moose versus wolf.”

Bruce Bartley, a Fish and Game spokesperson, said that when Alaska gained statehood, many residents thought federal laws had targeted wolves and bears too ruthlessly, and the new state “wanted to treat them as animals worthy of respect in their own right.”

As Bartley told the Anchorage Daily News:  Things are different now.
 
Animals aren’t worthy of respect these days in Alaska. Their fate lies with a capricious Game Board, or game-playing board. When caught in their games, they try, like peeved children, to change the rules. Friends of Animals’ goal is to stop the entire scheme.

But as we write to you now, after a hearing on the last day in January, the judge has not granted our Temporary Restraining Order against the emergency regulations adopted by the Board that week.  So predator control can go forth, under the new regulations we challenged.

It’s surreal. As a petition for review by Alaska’s Supreme Court is the only immediate chance to get between the guns and the wolves, we’re prepared to keep going.  Now, more than ever, we need you to stay with us. 

Please give what you can to the legal fees to defend Alaska’s wolves today. And kindly encourage your family, your co-workers, and the people in your community to help.

Before signing off, I want to personally thank you for supporting us steadfastly so far. Although the course our litigation has been anything but smooth, your investment has made a real difference so far for 400 wolves, one day at a time. And we won’t stop working for them -- not for a single day.

With sincere appreciation and respect,

Priscilla Feral
President

 

 

 

Friends of Animals: BOYCOTT IS BACK

February 15, 2006 | view comments | add yours
 
Dear Bent,
 

Friends of Animals just renewed a call to the public to avoid Alaska this travel season.

The recharged boycott follows a ruling by the Superior Court of Alaska that the state’s aerial wolf-shooting scheme is invalid. Rather than stop the gunning, the state’s Board of Game hastily made up new rules and started offering permits again.

Supporters worldwide can endorse the Alaska tourism boycott by joining the “I’d rather be here than in Alaska” campaign. Photographs of boycott supporters holding signs reading “Boycott Alaska,” “I’d rather be here than in Alaska,” and similar statements will be featured on the webpage www.boycott-alaska.org (to be activated on 17 February 2006).

The idea, brought to the Friends of Animals’ blog by Francis Murray of Juneau, Alaska, follows a lawsuit brought by Friends of Animals and individual plaintiffs which temporarily halted Alaska wolf control in January.

On the 17th of January, the airborne hunting permits were recalled following the Superior Court ruling that the Board of Game failed to meet follow its own regulations. With the permits withdrawn and the hunter-pilot teams grounded, the boycott on travel to Alaska was suspended.

Needless to say, the Board did not appreciate being told “No.” On the 29th of January, the Board called an “emergency” meeting. In addition to repealing all requirements and limitations that apply generally to wolf control — the basis for the Court ruling that the aerial wolf control scheme was invalid — the Board also barred related public notice and input.

One-hundred fifty-seven gunners and pilots may now get back in the air, chase wolves to exhaustion, and then shoot them. Having already killed nearly 450 wolves under the airborne hunting permits since 2003, Alaska officials want 400 more dead this season.

Friends of Animals’ new webpage will unveil the highs and lows where folks would rather be than in Alaska. Pictures are arriving from individuals and groups near iconic landmarks and destinations, lines at local banks and post offices, and packed subway cars.

“I’d Rather Be Here than in Alaska” pictures can be submitted electronically to: submissions@friendsofanimals.org

Or submit photos by mail to:

Friends of Animals
777 Post Road
Darien, CT U.S. 06820


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