Governor won't OK wolf hunts

Posted: Friday, February 25, 2000

ANCHORAGE - Gov. Tony Knowles says he won't approve any wolf kill programs around McGrath and the Nelchina Basin without more study.

The governor also urged the state Board of Game to protect wolf populations that are valuable for wildlife viewing and to rule out killing bears in efforts to boost moose and other game populations.

Fish and Game Commissioner Frank Rue will appoint a working group to study predator control if the Game Board agrees to the proposals, the governor said Thursday.

But predator-control advocates accused Knowles of stalling.

``I'm not surprised,'' said Board of Game member Mike Fleagle, who is also chief of the McGrath Native Village Council. ``To be honest, I think this is another way to avoid dealing with the issue.''

Sen. Pete Kelly, a Fairbanks Republican, said Knowles was avoiding one of his duties as governor - managing game for a sustained harvest.

``The moose population there has crashed under his watch,'' Kelly told the Anchorage Daily News. ``He'll stand by until the last moose is eaten by wolves. Then he'll hold a press conference.''

But Paul Joslin with the Alaska Wildlife Alliance said Knowles was taking a wise approach to an emotional issue.

``Before making a decision on something as volatile as wolf control, it's so important to have good information,'' Joslin said. ``He's clearly recognizing the interests of all Alaskans.''

The Game Board last month approved a wolf control program for McGrath in efforts to augment moose numbers in the area. The board tentatively approved a predator control plan for the Nelchina basin to increase caribou numbers.

Both programs need the governor's support before they can be implemented.

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