An animal rights group failed to persuade a judge Thursday to immediately suspend Alaska's aerial wolf control program, which it likened to a slaughter.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska An animal rights group failed to persuade a judge Thursday to immediately suspend Alaska's aerial wolf control program, which it likened to a slaughter.
Friends of Animals sought to have the program, authorized in five areas of the state, suspended until May 16 when the issue is scheduled for trial.
Superior Court Judge Sharon Gleason refused to issue a temporary injunction, saying she needed more time to review new concerns raised by Friends of Animals.
"It is essential to me to knock this wolf program out," said Priscilla Feral, president of the Darien, Conn.-based group. "It is a tremendous carnage."
Over the next few months, the state has set a goal of killing as many as 610 wolves, with the aim of increasing the number of harvestable moose.
Under program rules, teams are allowed to shoot wolves from the air in some areas but are required to land and shoot in others. In some areas, they can do both.
The judge said she would issue a decision after receiving written closing arguments Friday.
If the program is suspended now, even for a few months, the more than $1 million already invested in the McGrath area, where the program has a research component, will largely be lost, said Matt Robus, director of the state Division of Wildlife Conservation.
"The next three months ... is the prime opportunity to take wolves in this fashion. It is the time this action is really effective," Robus told the judge.
He denied the plaintiff's claim that more than 1,000 wolves were to be killed under the program.
As of Thursday, 86 wolves had been killed this winter. Hunters reported killing 144 wolves last winter in the program's first year.
If the killing is not halted, the remaining wolves will suffer long-term effects, said Gordon Haber, a wolf biologist whose research is funded by Friends of Animals.
He testified that aerial hunting tends to take out the dominant wolves, leaving a vulnerable pack that has higher death rates for years.
Source: Associated Press