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Alaska Supreme Court decision on wildlife management has broad implications

Posted: August 8, 2010

We read with interest the decision by the Alaska Supreme Court on an appeal brought by Defenders of Wildlife and the Alaska Wildlife Alliance questioning the constitutionality of single species management (e.g. predator control programs).  The Supreme Court declined the appeal, ruling that the state constitution gives the Department of Fish and Game the authority to conduct predator control as part of its toolbox to manage for sustained yield.

This decision was interesting for DCC.  Although we do not always weigh in directly upon the decisions of the Board of Game, we recently, in February, appeared before the Board requesting that they retain and expand the no wolf hunting or trapping zones next to Denali National Park.  At that meeting we observed, first hand, the conflicts and detailed controversies over how best to manage Alaska’s wildlife.  These conflicts, strident enough on state lands, are even stronger when management at the boundaries between state and federal lands comes up.  Our proposal was not passed at that  Board of Game meeting, and in fact all buffer zones next to Denali were eliminated in a close vote.

Some may say that there is nothing to be done about the State of Alaska’s seemingly single-minded push to control predators.  However, we still think that there are plenty of opportunities for education and participation at the local level to promote a more balanced approach.   For example, we sponsored a forum on wildlife management in June, where the issue was well explored with representatives from the state, the federal government and interested observers.

What do you think about the Supreme Court decision and its implications?  We invite your opinion. To read the Supreme Court’s decision, visit the link below:
http://caselaw.findlaw.com/ak-supreme-court/1534241.html

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