Cross posted at the Daily Kos under betson08
Blog Action Day coincides with Wolf Awareness Week. So I thought I’d startle you into noticing an issue that has been really bothering me since I first heard about it a month ago, and diaried it over at the Daily Kos here.
There have been important recent developments, so I thought I’d take advantage of the environmental theme of Blog Action Day to pass them on.
Who in the world would go up in a small plane and slaughter these majestic creatures, and how can we stop this?
Despite the fact that it was outlawed more than 30 years ago, the State of Alaska continues to actively promote the aerial killing of wolves (and bears too, btw). This is NOT a sport in any sense of the term.
This information comes from the Defenders of Wildlife website.
More than 30 years ago, Congress banned the use of airplanes to hunt or harass wolves and other wildlife by passing the federal Airborne Hunting Act (AHA). This barbaric and unethical practice has been resurrected in Alaska under the guise of wildlife management. Voters in Alaska have tried to stop aerial hunting twice through state ballot measures, only to have their efforts largely overturned by the Alaska Legislature. A state law allows the Legislature to overturn legislation passed through the ballot-measure process after two years. Alaska legislators and the Board of Game have circumvented the will of Alaskan voters and the intent of Congress by exploiting a loophole in the AHA to resurrect aerial hunting, under the term “wildlife management.”
The state’s program lacks a sound, comprehensive scientific foundation and aims to virtually eliminate wolves in nearly 60,000 square miles of Alaska for the sole purpose of artificially inflating specific game populations largely for urban and out-of-state hunters. It also targets brown and black bears by promoting the use of aircraft for “land and shoot” hunting of bears in more than 12,000 square miles of the state. Other states are considering similar programs. <
Some Background: Hunting or Wildlife Management?
Congress passed the federal Airborne Hunting Act (AHA), which was enacted in 1972, to stop private hunters from harassing and shooting wolves and other animals from aircraft. The act contains appropriate exceptions for wildlife management based on sound science. But the Alaska state legislature and the Alaska Board of Game have repeatedly adopted legislation and regulations respectively that exploit one of the act’s exceptions in order to allow aerial hunting to be resurrected.
Currently, private citizens with state permits can either land and shoot wolves or shoot them from the air in almost 60,000 square miles of Alaska, and land and shoot bears in more than 12,000 square miles
The hunting is done in many of the same regions of the state in which wolf hunters operated before the Airborne Hunting Act was passed.
The hunters and pilots who have received permits include some of the same aerial wolf hunters from those earlier years.
These hunters use their own planes, pay all expenses of the hunt and are entitled to keep or sell the pelts.
The only major thing that has changed since pre-AHA years is that hunters and pilots must obtain a permit from the state and hunt wolves and bears only within predator-control areas designated by the Board of Game.
Moreover, the goal of the program, as acknowledged by the Board of Game, is to artificially depress predator populations solely for the purpose of increasing moose or caribou numbers for hunting. This is clearly outside the scope of the AHA’s letter and intent.
Predator control in accordance with scientific wildlife management would be much more limited geographically and would be conducted more efficiently by professional personnel employed by the Department of Fish and Game. It would also be limited to those situations where there is a serious biological problem, not based on Alaska politicians’ desire to boost hunting opportunities.
The bottom line is this: In Alaska, private hunters are once again using aircraft to harass and shoot wolves and bears from the air. That is a clear violation of the letter and spirit of the Airborne Hunting Act as passed by Congress.
Here’s another thing the State of Alaska does. Think the wolf version of Bambi.
Before the close of the 2006/2007 aerial hunting season, Gov. Sarah Palin’s administration placed a $150 bounty on wolves killed by serial hunters. To claim the bounty, the hunter had to turn in the wolf’s left foreleg. The bounty was immediately thrown out by a state court. Each year the aerial hunting programs continue until April 30, well into wolf denning season when mothers are giving birth to pups.
The State of Alaska is actually thwarting democracy on this issue, as the legislature has twice overridden ballot initiatives. Anybody else smell huge campaign contributions?
In 1996, Alaska voters approved a ballot initiative that banned aerial wolf hunting in Alaska, except in the event of a biological emergency. Three years later, the state Legislature largely overturned the ballot initiative and revived aerial hunting. In 2000, a second ballot measure banning the use of aircraft by private citizens to kill wolves
passed by a margin of 54 percent. In 2003, the Alaska legislature again overturned the will of Alaska voters and passed a law that exploits an unintended loophole in the AHA to provide the opportunity for private hunters to kill wolves using aircraft in areas designated for predator
More than enough signatures have been collected to place the issue on the ballot for a third time in 2008.
On Sept. 25th, Miller introduced H.R. 3663, the Protect America’s Wildlife (PAW) Act, which would prohibit this practice.
Here are the co-sponsors as of 10/10
Rep Capps, Lois [CA-23] – 10/10/2007
Rep DeFazio, Peter A. [OR-4] – 10/1/2007
Rep Dicks, Norman D. [WA-6] – 9/25/2007
Rep Dingell, John D. [MI-15] – 9/25/2007
Rep Eshoo, Anna G. [CA-14] – 10/10/2007
Rep Grijalva, Raul M. [AZ-7] – 10/10/2007
Rep McDermott, Jim [WA-7] – 10/1/2007
Rep Moran, James P. [VA-8] – 10/1/2007
Rep Rothman, Steven R. [NJ-9] – 10/10/2007
Rep Serrano, Jose E. [NY-16] – 10/10/2007
Rep Waxman, Henry A. [CA-30] – 10/10/2007
Rep Wexler, Robert [FL-19] – 10/10/2007
To ask YOUR Congressional representative to co-sponsor this legislation, go here
The Defenders of Wildlife would like to get 40,000 people to take action, and right now they have about 23,000. We’ve got a big community here that can make a huge difference on this bill.
If you want to send the Governor of Alaska a letter letting telling her of your objection to aerial killing of wolves and bears go here
For more information on this practice, check out the video. Caution, half way through it contains aerial hunting scenes that are disturbing. But this practice IS disturbing and I hope you’ll join me in speaking out against it.