Alaska Digest

Posted: Sunday, October 30, 2005

Wolf-shooting-ban petition certified

JUNEAU - The state certified a petition Friday by the Alaskans for Wildlife that could allow voters to decide yet again whether to ban the aerial shooting of wolves and other animals on the Nov. 2006 ballot.

The petition sponsor, the Alaskans For Wildlife, must now obtain 31,000 signatures in order to get the measure on the election ballot for the third time in Alaska history.

The measure would reinstate a law that was passed by 59 percent of Alaska voters in 1996. Voters approved the ban again in 2000 after the state Legislature overturned it. The Legislature re-overturned the ban.

The Murkowski administration supports the aerial shooting of wolves and grizzlies in Interior Alaska to increase moose and other prey populations.

The state allows individuals to apply for the aerial predator control permits.

The Alaskans for Wildlife, led by Juneau residents Joel Bennett, Nick Jans, and a former big game guide in the Denali Park area, hope to convince Alaska voters to limit aerial predator control to Department of Fish and Game personnel only.

If their measure is approved by voters, state biologists could only use aircraft to kill wolves and grizzly bears in cases of a biological emergency and if there is no other alternative.

UAA announces hiring freeze

ANCHORAGE - University of Alaska Anchorage officials said a new hiring freeze for instructors at its College of Arts and Sciences will remedy the college's $2.4 million budget deficit.

College Dean James Liszka announced the decision at an emergency meeting on Friday to put a hold on new hires.

The budget for the university is stable, but the College of Arts and Sciences has fallen into debt as other schools, such as nursing and engineering, require their students to take arts and sciences classes. The college includes departments such as English, mathematics and psychology.

The move means most current hiring processes will be suspended, with the exception of a few key positions, officials said.

Some faculty and staff at the meeting complained the university system has been too focused on bolstering the newer nursing and engineering programs, without looking at how those programs impact the College of Arts and Sciences budget.

The CAS is the largest of six schools at UAA. There are 3,200 students with majors in the college. Its budget is $22 million of the university's $135 million general operating budget.

Sen. Ben Stevens declares marketing board membership

ANCHORAGE - State Senate President Ben Stevens said he is being unfairly singled out for belatedly declaring his membership on the Alaska Fisheries Marketing Board to the Alaska Public Offices Commission.

The commission publishes financial information on the activities of election campaigns, public officials, lobbyists and lobbyist employers.

Stevens told the Anchorage Daily News he disclosed his board membership with the Alaska Legislative Ethics Committee, but not with APOC.

"My answer to that is, why don't you go out and look at all the other legislators that have done the same thing?" he said when the paper asked about the omission in his APOC report.

But Brooke Miles, executive director of APOC, said disclosure with the ethics committee does not substitute for filing with her agency.

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