Game Board needs broader membership

Letter to the editor

Posted: Friday, February 03, 2006

The recent unanimous Alaska Board of Game vote to adopt emergency regulations to reinstitute wolf control programs in five areas of the state should be of serious concern to Alaskans.

This was the board's response to a Superior Court ruling that they had failed to follow their own rules before adopting wolf control programs.

The finding of an emergency in a hastily convened teleconference allowed the wolf killing program to begin immediately, without waiting for the usual public meeting process. This does not serve the public well, as information from other biologists and informed people is excluded.

State law requires that an emergency regulation can only be used if it is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, safety or general welfare.

To stop the wolf control program to allow the board to meet in a regular Game Board meeting with full public participation, a delay of about two months, is not going to create an emergency in a program that has a five-year life. Any adverse consequences of more wolves surviving is just too indirect. The board's emergency decision looks like another end run around the rules, just like the one that got the state into court in the first place.

During the eight-hour emergency meeting there was no critical discussion about whether the finding of an emergency met the immediacy test under law, as well as an utter lack of dissent about any aspect of the adoption of the regulations. Most Game Board meetings in the past have involved some differences of opinion and split voting. When members demonstrate a diversity of views, the process is more representative of the general public. This hallmark of board membership is sorely lacking now.

Until this board becomes more representative of the broad public view, the main agenda of excessive predator control will continue to be the order of the day. A majority of the public will just have to sit on the sidelines and watch, with its only alternative being another ballot measure vote in 2008 to once again reinstitute a ban on aerial wolf shooting.

Joel Bennett

Alaska Board of Game Member, 1977-1989



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