Friday, March 20, 2009

Palin Calls in Helicopters for Wolf Massacre

March 18, 2009

The Palin administration considerably escalated its aerial wolf killing spree this past weekend, with full details only becoming clear in the hours after the killing initiated. At least 58 wolves have been killed in the Upper Yukon/Tanana area of Alaska over the past 4 days by Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) staff, which indicates that their target of approximately 250 wolves will be easily met.

The key ingredient is the decision by the governor and her appointed Alaska Board of Game to use helicopters as part of the state's wolf killing program in this region. The Board of Game approved the use of agency helicopters and personnel at its most recent meeting, which ended March 9, 2009, but those new regulations are not yet in effect, making the current helicopter wolf killing program in the Upper Yukon/Tanana region illegal. It is on these grounds that the board now faces a law suit, filed today by Defenders of Wildlife calling for an immediate injunction on the aerial wolf killing occurring in this area

“While the media obsesses over Governor Palin’s private family life, she is getting away with illegally slaughtering large numbers of wolves from the air,” commented Defenders Action Fund president, Rodger Schlickeisen. “The governor is even encouraging the killing of wolves that reside and den mostly on federal land, which belongs to all of us, not just Alaskans. There is no biological emergency in Alaska that warrants such measures.”

The ADF&G gave the National Park Service just a few hours notice before the killing began and as of Tuesday morning, at least 58 wolves were already known to have been killed, in addition to at least 27 that had already been killed by private hunters. According to the National Park Service’s March 15 briefing statement (attached), if ADF&G is successful in reaching its goal, “this would leave one-to-two wolves per 1,000 square kilometers in the Upper Yukon Wolf Control Area, approximating the lowest known wolf population densities in Alaska.” Upon learning of the state’s plans, the Service requested a no-wolf kill buffer zone around the preserve, but the state refused, putting at risk many of the members of seven wolf packs that reside mostly within the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, many of which are part of an ongoing wolf study conducted by the park, at federal taxpayer expense.

“The Palin administration has created the least scientific Board of Game in the state’s history and this board will stop at nothing to reach its arbitrary and overblown goals for moose and caribou populations. They don’t even play by their own rules!” continued Schlickeisen. “Removing such huge numbers of predators from a region will do untold damage to all the wildlife that depends on that habitat. Governor Palin is recklessly pursuing policies that could turn America’s last frontier into nothing more than a large game farm.”

During the recent spring Board of Game meeting, the board also approved a proposal to allow to the use of gas bombs to kill wolves and wolf pups in their dens. The consistently unanimous votes for unprecedented and increasingly extreme methods of killing wolves have caused many to question the make up of the board and the magnitude of their vendetta against wolves. Each of the seven members have been appointed or re-appointed by Governor Palin, who has consistently chosen her appointees from the hunting lobby, excluding all other interests from the board.

© 2009 Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund

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