Alaska Halts Wolf Kill, Calling it Cruel
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) _ Gov. Tony Knowles canceled the state’s wolf kill program Friday, calling it cruel and ineptly run.
Knowles had suspended the program and ordered an investigation after a botched wolf kill was shown on nationwide television Nov. 29.
The footage showed a state hunter shooting a snared wolf four times before it died. Also shown was a wolf that had gnawed its leg to a bloody stump in a failed attempt to escape a snare.
``The report showed a program that was professionally mismanaged, caused indiscriminate killing of other wildlife and was an unacceptable way to treat any animal,″ said Knowles, a Democrat who took over from Republican Walter J. Hickel last month.
Knowles also ordered an investigation of the people involved in the wolf kill, and into other predator control policies that are to be considered by the state Board of Game next month.
The governor said other programs, including aerial shootings, could be effective in killing wolves if run properly. Alaska, with 5,000 to 7,000 wolves, is the only state where wolves aren’t endangered. Hunters are still allowed to kill them.
The Board of Game approved the state wolf-kill program two years ago in an effort to increase moose and caribou populations for the benefit of hunters.
Since then, 1,735 snares killed 134 wolves in the mountains and flatlands within Alaska’s Interior region, according to the report released Friday by the Department of Public Safety’s Fish and Wildlife Protection.
The snares also caught moose, caribou, grizzly bears, wolverines, coyotes, red fox, snowshoe hares, golden eagles and ravens. Of the 96 other animals caught, 34 survived, the report said.
Animal rights’ groups lauded Knowles’ decision and wolf-control advocates questioned his understanding of predator control.
``It’s pretty clear the governor wants to distance himself from the policies of the previous administration,″ said Dick Bishop of the Alaska Outdoor Council.
Deaths of other animals were to be expected with the predator control program, he said.