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You can stop Alaska’s aerial wolf hunting

By Gary Bogue
Wednesday, September 26th, 2007 at 7:00 am in Wolves.

Congressman George Miller’s new bill would stop illegal airborne hunting of Alaskan wolves and other wildlife.

I just received the following release from Congressman George Miller’s office:

WASHINGTON — Legislation introduced Tuesday (Sept. 5) would protect wolves, bears, and other wildlife from the illegal and inhumane practice of airborne hunting. The new bill would close a loophole in federal law that Alaska officials have exploited to permit individual hunters to shoot and kill nearly 700 wolves from aircraft in the past four years.

“It’s time to ground Alaska’s illegal and inhumane air assault on wolves,” said Congressman George Miller (D-CA), a leader in Congress on conservation and natural resource issues and author of the new bill. “The state of Alaska has been operating an airborne hunting program that not only ignores federal law but violates Alaskans’ and other Americans’ wishes. The PAW Act will help protect our nation’s wildlife from the unethical and unfair practice of airborne hunting.”

The Protect America’s Wildlife Act, or PAW Act, was introduced by Miller along with Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), the dean of the House and floor manager of the debate on the original Airborne Hunting Act, and Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA), the chair of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee.

At a press conference on Capitol Hull, Miller was joined by Atka, a 3-year-old Arctic gray wolf, and two wildlife experts and advocates — Joel Bennett, an Alaska resident and former member of the state’s Board of Game, and Roger Schlickeisen, President of Defenders of Wildlife, a national conservation and environmental advocacy organization.

In response to public outcry over airborne wolf hunting in Alaska, Congress passed the Airborne Hunting Act of 1972 to prohibit shooting or harassing animals from aircraft. However, for the last several years, officials in Alaska have licensed people to shoot hundreds of wolves from aircraft under the guise of wildlife management and predator control but in clear violation of the intent of the federal ban.

In 1996 and again in 2000, Alaskans approved two popular ballot measures that banned airborne hunting in the state, but the state legislature largely overturned each of those measures.

Hunting wildlife from an aircraft violates wildlife management principles and the hunting rules of fair chase, as does the related practice of chasing animals in aircraft until they are exhausted and then executing them on the ground, known as “land and shoot.”

The PAW Act makes it clear that states can only conduct activities prohibited by the Airborne Hunting Act to respond to legitimate biological and other emergencies, not just to authorize otherwise-illegal hunting practices. The bill does not alter existing exceptions for the use of aircraft for animal control where land, livestock, water, pets, crops, or human health and safety are at risk.

The bill will be considered by the Committee on Natural Resources.

YOU CAN HELP:
Please help to get this bill passed. Go to the Defenders of Wildlife web site (below), click on the TAKE ACTION button under the photo of the wolf head on the left and fill out the form urging your Representative to sign on as a co-sponsor to Miller’s PAW Act: http://www.defenders.org/index.php

More about the aerial hunting of wolves:
http://www.defenders.org/programs_and_policy/policy_and_legislation/airborne_hunting.php

You can save the Alaska wolves. Please do. Thanks. /Gary

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