Alaska Wolf and Bear Protection, Measure 2 (August 2008)

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The Alaska Wolf and Bear Protection Initiative, also known as Measure 2, was on the August 26, 2008 ballot in Alaska as an indirect initiated state statute, where it was defeated. The measure would have revised the ban on same-day airborne shooting to include grizzly bears.[1]

Election results

Alaska Measure 2 (August 2008)
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No105,41755.18%
Yes 85,619 44.82%

Election results via: Alaska Department of Elections

Text of measure

The language appeared on the ballot as:[1]

This bill amends current law banning same-day airborne shooting to include grizzly bears. The bill permits the Board of Game to allow a predator program for wolves and grizzly bears if the Commissioner of Fish and Game finds an emergency, where wolves or grizzly bears in an area are causing a decline in prey. Only employees of the Department of Fish and Game could take part in the program. Only the minimum number of wolves or grizzly bears needed to stop the emergency could be removed.

Should this initiative become law?

Yes
No[2]

Ballot summary

The following ballot summary was prepared by the Legislative Affairs Agency:[1]

This measure prohibits a person from shooting wolves or grizzly bears on the same day the person has been airborne. But, there is an exception if there is a biological emergency and the shooting is the only feasible option. Also, for the shooting to be allowed, the shooting must be done only by a state employee and in certain areas of the state. The number of wolves or grizzly bears shot under the exception has to be the least amount possible.[2]

Background

In 1996, Alaskans approved Measure 3, which prohibited "hunting wild wolf, wolverine, fox, or lynx the same day a person was airborne." In the 2000 legislative session, the Alaska State Legislature passed SB 267 which overturned this initiative.[3]

Support

The initiative was sponsored by Paul Fuhs, Bob Lynn and Victor H. Kohring. The Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund was active in promoting the initiative.[4]

Arguments

Nick Jans, co-sponsor of Measure 2, called the practice of aerial hunting "a vestige of redneck Alaska, the old-fashioned idea that wildlife is all for us and we can do whatever we want with it and blasting things indiscriminately is the Alaska way of life." He also critique the legislature for overturning a 1996 initiative banning ariel hunting for wolves, saying, "This is an issue that has been addressed and addressed again. It is a clear matter. The will of the people has already been known and we are just reasserting it here. We are both puzzled and enraged that we are back at this point again."[5]

Tactics and strategies

Defenders of Wildlife, along with Friends of Animals, the Alaska Wildlife Alliance and the Sierra Club initiated a lawsuit, which was settled in March 2008. This lead to a decision prohibiting aerial gunning in four areas covering about 15,000 of the total 60,000 acres included in the program.[6]

Opposition

Alaskans for Professional Wildlife Management led the campaign in opposition to the initiative. The group was financially backed by the Safari Club International.[5]

Arguments

Opponents argued that aerial hunting is necessary for keeping other animal populations stable. Wayne Regelin, former deputy commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said aerial hunting is a "very important wildlife management tool that is used sparingly" in Alaska.[5]

Donne Fleagle, a longtime McGrath resident who is married to former game board chairman Mike Fleagle, said the aerial hunting program has nothing to do with hunting for sport. Rather, it's a game management tool that is helping people in rural Alaska put food on the table. She argued, "We are seeing cows that are birthing twin calves now. We are seeing a better survival rate for calves... It has helped our moose population. I don't know how long people want to live on store-bought meat or could afford it. I would hate to see village Alaska turn into a ghost town. This is the heart and soul of Alaska."[5]

Tactics and strategies

Opponents in the Alaska Legislature worked on passing legislation that would prohibit Alaskans from voting on wildlife issues. Gov. Palin (R) received about 10,000 emails condemning the legislation. The legislature's bill would have defined Alaskan wildlife as an "asset" and, therefore, make Measure 2 defunct. The Alaska Outdoor Council, which was backed by the Safari Club and NRA, supported this legislation.[4]

Controversies

State involvement

The Alaska Fish and Game Department released a pamphlet, funded by public money and approved by Gov. Palin, called, "Understanding Intensive Management and Predator Control in Alaska." The pamphlet was circulated in newspapers statewide just weeks before the election. The pamphlet argued that the current system was working well. Jim Marcotte, Director of Support for the Board of Game, said the pamphlet was not meant to influence voters.[7] Responding to allegations that she signed off on a stated-funded "propaganda campaign," Gov. Palin said, "My understanding is this program was funded by the Legislature to factually explain game management practices to Alaskans, and I don't have a problem with that." The total bill for the pamphlet and circulation was $400,000.[8]

Path to the ballot

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An application for the initiative was received in the Lieutenant Governor's Office on August 23, 2005. A copy of the application and signatures were sent to the Department of Law and Division of Elections on August 24, 2005. The Division of Elections determined that there were a sufficient number of sponsor signatures on September 16, 2005. The application was certified on October 27, 2005. Petition booklets were issued to the initiative committee on November 2, 2005. The one year filing deadline for this petition was November 2, 2006. Petition booklets were submitted to the Division of Elections on October 24, 2006.

Lieutenant Governor Parnell determined that the petition for this initiative was properly filed on January 26, 2007.

See also

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External links

References