Homer Alaska - Opinion

Story last updated at 6:52 PM on Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Predator control decision delayed

Morris News Service - Alaska

For intensive management on the Kenai Peninsula, the wait continues.

The Alaska Board of Game tabled a decision on Proposals 35 and 36, which would implement predator control measures for wolves on the peninsula, during the board's meeting in Barrow at the end of last week. A decision on the proposals is on hold until the statewide meeting that takes place Jan. 13-17 in Anchorage.

The Board of Game released the proposed intensive management plans earlier in October. They include aerial wolf control for Game Management Units 15A and 15C, which make up the majority of the Kenai Peninsula. Although Fish and Game has a plan, the details of the program have yet to be ironed out.

The heart of the issue is centered around controlling wolf populations to help boost the number of moose in the area pursuant to a state law mandating the "highest use" of the animal be for human consumption, Board of Game vice chairman Ted Spraker said.

The proposals were tabled in Barrow because the Alaska Department of Fish and Game did not produce a required feasibility plan and because the Board of Game found faults in a "5aac92.125" document, Spraker said.

The 5aac92.125 is important to the process, because it is the legal document brought into court if there is ever a court decision or litigation, Spraker said.

"It was obvious there were quite a few things that needed to be corrected in the 92.125 plan," Spraker said. "There were some invalid assumptions made by (Fish and Game)."

Spraker said the feasibility plan, which "drives the process," would contain the operation plan.

"It lines out what is happening, it's a very detailed plan," he said.

Spraker said the board was hesitant about moving forward with the process since the public did not have a chance to review the plan.

"We're not going to vote on something that the public hasn't reviewed," he said.

The feasibility plan is scheduled to be released by Dec. 5, Spraker said, giving the public a chance to review and comment on it before the January meeting in Anchorage.

Spraker said this is the fourth time the board has asked Fish and Game to produce the feasibility plan. The first time was in March of 2009, then again in January 2010, followed by March 2011, and most recently in November of 2011.

"If we don't do something soon, we're going to be faced with just lower numbers, reduced opportunity," Spraker said. "... The last thing we want is for this to go on forever."

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game already approved intensive management programs for both game units (proposal 173, voted on in March of 2011).

Proposal 35, which includes Unit 15A, and 36, which includes Unit 15C, are the operational plans to be voted on in January.

Both plans would:

• Authorize methods of taking wolves, including hunting and trapping;

• Authorize the commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to issue public aerial shooting permits and land and shoot permits;

• Authorize the commissioner to allow agents of the state or department employees to do aerial, land and shoot, or ground shooting of wolves; and

• Allow aerial wolf control for five years from January 2012 to January 2017.

Logan Tuttle is a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion. The Homer News also contributed to this report.