Please allow me to dispel confusion and continued misunderstanding on the effects of Senate Bill 155, an act relating to predator control programs recently signed into law by Gov. Murkowski.
The key to understanding the effects of SB 155 is in understanding the difference between hunting and a predator control program. Same-day-airborne hunting of wolves has been and remains illegal. Same-day-airborne methods to take wolves under an approved predator reduction program was legal before SB 155 and are legal now, as long as the Board of Game follows the procedures required by the law.
Statutes adopted by ballot initiative in 1998 prohibited the same-day airborne hunting of wolves. The same ballot initiative did allow shooting of wolves from the air and immediately after landing by Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) personnel as part of a wolf predation control program authorized by the Board of Game. Subsequent legislative amendments to this law also allowed the public to participate in these predator control programs.
SB 155 did not change who can participate in wolf predation control programs that involve same-day-airborne methods. It only changed procedures for implementing this type of program.
SB 155 simply amended language regarding how wildlife management goals may be used for determining the need for a predator control program. It also allows the Board of Game to authorize a predator control program for wolves without having to request a formal finding by the commissioner of Fish and Game. However, ADF&G retains final control over any predator control program involving aerial or land-and-shoot methods because only the commissioner can issue permits for wolves to be taken in this manner.
Conducting a predator control management program requires a great deal of deliberation, can be done only when justified for a specific geographic area, and is pursued for a limited time. The Board of Game must consider scientific data provided by ADF&G, advisory committee findings, and views and opinions from the public.
Finally, you should know my approval for implementing a predator control program, airborne or otherwise, will require a plan that is biologically justified, cost effective, and uses methods that are as humane, effective and efficient possible.
Kevin C. Duffy
Alaska Department of Fish and Game