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The right call on shooting wolves

Posted: Monday, April 10, 2000

The following editorial appeared in the April 5 edition of The Anchorage Daily News:

Rep. Andrew Halcro, an Anchorage Republican, has bucked the will of his own Republican majority with opposition to Senate Bill 267. That bill guts the initiative against same-day airborne hunting of wolves that Alaskans approved by a decisive margin in 1996.

Rep. Halcro's reasons are simple. Most of his constituents opposed killing wolves that way. They were among the Alaskans who signed petitions to put the issue on the ballot, then resolved the issue with a 58.5 percent majority.

Halcro said he didn't vote for the initiative in 1996. He has voted in favor of a constitutional amendment to keep wildlife management issues out of the initiative process and believes there is a real need for wolf control.

But he said those issues are not the point.

``I think people are so disillusioned with the political process, when you have a situation like this, I think it's best to respect the voters,'' he said.

He's right.

Last Monday, Halcro lost a vote on an amendment to the Senate bill that would have limited same-day airborne hunting to either the state Department of Fish and Game or people authorized by the state as agents. That amendment would at least have precluded an open season on wolves and kept the bill closer to the spirit of the 1996 initiative, which allowed Fish and Game the same-day airborne option in biological emergencies.

Tuesday, Halcro voted against the bill and lost there too. In the process he riled some of the bill's supporters, including prime sponsor Sen. Pete Kelly, a Fairbanks Republican. Halcro said he apologized for neglecting protocol in not informing Sen. Kelly of his amendment before its introduction. But he makes no apologies for breaking with the majority on the issue.

One member, he said, bemoaned the fact that majority lawmakers seemed to be all over the place. ``Of course we're all over the place,'' Halcro said. ``What the hell is this, a conga line?''

Halcro also responded to criticism that he supported the popular will in this case yet backs a long-range state financial plan that includes the use of permanent fund earnings despite the overwhelming defeat of the balanced budget plan in September. He said he's counted at least eight reasons people voted against the 1999 budget plan, in what was only an advisory vote. He counts just one in the 1996 initiative, which was a binding vote: Alaskans looked at same-day airborne hunting of wolves, and ``they didn't think it was right.''

The Anchorage Republican has said no to a majority of his colleagues for good cause. Lawmakers shouldn't overthrow the will of the people without a compelling reason. They haven't shown such reason, and Halcro refuses to join in the pretense that they have.



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