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

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The Wolf and Bear Protection Act or Measure 2 is an initiated state statute that was on the statewide August 26 ballot in Alaska.

If it had passed, the measure would have prohibited shooting of a free-ranging wolf, wolverine, or grizzly bear the same day that the person has been airborne.


Election results

Alaska Wolf and Bear Protection, Measure 2
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No105,41755.2%
Yes 85,619 44.8%

Results from Anchorage Daily News.[1]

Specific provisions

This rule may be retracted by the Board of Game if:

  1. The Commissioner of Fish and Game makes written findings based on adequate data demonstrating that a biological emergency exists and that there is no feasible solution other than airborne control to eliminate the biological emergency;
  2. any shooting is conducted by the Department of Fish and Game personnel only;
  3. the program is limited to the specific geographical area where the biological emergency exists; and
  4. the program removes only the minimum number of wolves or grizzly bears necessary to eliminate the biological emergency
  • This section would not apply to those air born on a commercial flight
  • Violation of this results in a misdemeanor, and upon conviction is punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000, or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or by both. Also may demand that the aircraft be forfeit to the state.

Background

In 1996 a ballot initiative promoting aerial predator control was rejected by 36 of the 40 districts in Alaska. In 2000, 29 of 40 districts did the same. However both of these initiatives were later overturned by the legislature. In 2000 voters were also faced with the No Voter Initiatives About Wildlife Amendment, placed on the ballot by the Alaska State Legislature, that would have made it unconstitutional to place any citizen initiatives pertaining to wildlife on the ballot. That measure was defeated, with only 37% of the electorate voting in its favor.

Support

Paul Fuhs, Bob Lynn, Victor H. Kohring sponsored the initiative. Also the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund is very active in promoting the initiative. The group has reported that 56 wolves have been killed this year and is working to stop the practice.[2]

Nick Jans, co-sponsor of Amendment 2, calls the current 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." Referring to voter decisions against using aircraft to track and hunt predators in 1996 and 2000, Jans said, "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."[3] After an allegation claiming that Alaskans for Wildlife led “an apparent pattern of deception and willful attempt to mislead the public,” including an omission of funds being spent, Jans responded, “We don’t have anything to hide here. Outside money coming into this issue is nothing new.” Further, Alaska Wildlife Alliance has filed a complaint with the Alaska Public Offices Commission alleging that the state is illegally trying to influence the outcome of Measure 2. “The timing and one-sided nature of the Palin administration’s propaganda are an illegal attempt to influence voters,” said John Toppenberg, the alliance’s director. Tim Barry, a spokesman for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said the Legislature did make an appropriation of $400,000 so that the Board of Game could educate and inform the public about the state’s intensive management program. He says the agency has not “been doing any campaigning or putting inserts in papers or making speeches about the issues.”[4]

Lawsuit

Two lawsuits were settled in March of 2008 concerning the aerial shootings of wolves. Both decisions led to aerial gunning being prohibited in four areas covering up to 15,000 of the total 60,000 included in the program. The case was brought forth by Friends of Animals, Defenders of Wildlife, the Alaska Wildlife Alliance, and the Sierra Club.[5]

Opposition

The Alaska legislature has been working to pass legislation that would prohibit Alaskans from voting on wildlife issues. It has been reported that Governor Palin has already received 10,000 emails condemning the legislation.[6]

The legislature is trying to hurry through Alaska House Bill 348 and Senate Bills 176, HB 256 which would define the Alaska wildlife as an "asset" and therefore make the initiative defunct. The bills are strongly back by the Alaska Outdoor Council which receives financial backing from the Safari Club and the NRA.[2]</ref>

Safari Club International, which describes itself as the largest and most active big game hunting organization in the world, is the main contributor to Alaskans for Professional Wildlife Management, spearheading the opposition.[3]

Opponents say the current system is necessary for keeping other animal populations stable. Wayne Regelin, former deputy commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said if the ballot measure passes it means the end of a program, and along with it a "very important wildlife management tool that is used sparingly" in Alaska. "What is an irreversible decline for crying out loud? Do they have to go extinct?"[3] Donne Fleagle, a longtime McGrath resident who is married to former game board chairman Mike Fleagle, said the program has nothing to do with hunting. It is a game management tool that is helping people in rural Alaska put food on the table, she said. "We are seeing cows that are birthing twin calves now," Fleagle said. "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," she said. "I would hate to see village Alaska turn into a ghost town. This is the heart and soul of Alaska."[3]

Palin criticized for tax funds

Funded by public money and approved by Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Alaska Fish and Game Department released a pamphlet called "Understanding Intensive Management and Predator Control in Alaska" and circulated it through newspapers statewide to tens of thousands of Alaskans just weeks before the election. The pamphlet emphasizes how well the current system is working. Jim Marcotte, director of support for the Board of Game, said the pamphlet is not meant to influence voters. "Now is when there's public interest. A lot of people have been calling and saying, 'What's this about,'" Marcotte said.[7] In response to the allegation that she signed off on a "propaganda campaign to justify the state's barbaric wolf slaughter from the skies," 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 "education" was $400,000 Palin has previously taken criticism for supporting looser bear-hunting regulations, allegedly aimed at reducing the bear population to inflate caribou and moose populations, and consequently draw big game hunters to Alaska.[8]

Status

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The measure went down to defeat Aug. 26, 2008, with voters splitting 44.4% for the measure and 55.6% against (with 98% of precincts reporting).

The following is the status of the initiative according to the Lieutenant Governor of Alaska:

Application 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. The proposition will be placed on the 2008 primary election ballot unless a statewide special election is held more than 120 days after the adjournment of the 2007 legislative session or substantially similar legislation is passed.

See also

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External links

References


Additional information about ballot litigation in 2008