House OKs wolf control bill

Posted: Tuesday, April 04, 2000

A 1996 voter decision on wolf control has been virtually overturned by the state House and Senate.

The House today passed Senate Bill 267, which allows hunters to spot wolves from planes, land, and shoot them the same day. It allows the practice in areas designated by the state Board of Game for predator control to boost game populations.

The measure faces a veto from Gov. Tony Knowles.

The bill basically guts a 1996 voter initiative that prohibited flying into an area and shooting wolves the same day, unless there is a biological emergency. The Legislature is allowed to repeal citizen initiatives two years after they've passed.

``The framers of the Constitution put the Legislature into the process in case something was done by the citizens that had an unforeseen consequence,'' said state Rep. Gene Therriault, a Fairbanks Republican.

Lawmakers favoring the change pointed to problems in the McGrath area, where residents are having trouble competing with wolves for the caribou and moose they need to feed their families. Residents there have also said the growing number of wolves has killed pets, and they fear for their children's safety.

Rep. Andrew Halcro, an Anchorage Republican, tried to amend the bill Monday to restrict the use of same-day-airborne hunting to only Fish and Game Department personnel or their agents, and remove the provisions allowing same-day-airborne hunting in predator control areas.

Halcro said his constituents voted 59 percent in favor of the initiative and he wasn't going to overturn their decision. His amendment failed by a vote of 28-10.

The vote today on the overall bill was 27-11. Rep. Beth Kerttula, a Democrat, voted against the bill, while Rep. Bill Hudson, a Republican, voted in favor of it.

The measure will have to go back to the Senate for approval of changes before going to Knowles.

Bob King, spokesman for the governor, said Knowles will veto the bill if it hits his desk. However, the bill passed the House and Senate with enough votes to override a veto.



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