December 3, 2023

Three Alaska Candidates For Governor Sound Off About Predator Hunting By Plane

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There are three candidates for Alaska’s governor. One will take over the reins after this November’s election. The candidates are Republican Sarah Palin, Democrat Tony Knowles and Independent Andrew Halcro. They met recently to debate a host of issues including the “bridges to nowhere” controversy and shooting wolves from airplanes.

The Board of Game has a program that allows hunters to hunt wolves from airplanes. This program has met with opposition and has found its way in and out of the court system. The idea behind the hunt is to reduce the number of wolves in certain regions that are having a devastating affect on the moose and caribou populations. In these areas, access is difficult and because of that, hunters and trappers won’t go there. Officials thought that with plane or helicopter, hunters could go after the wolves.

Each of the candidates has a position on aerial wolf hunting as was expressed during this debate and was written in the Anchorage Daily News.

Moderator Steve MacDonald asked the candidates if they would continue aerial wolf hunting.

“If I am elected, I don’t want you to be surprised that I am a proponent of predator control in order to build those populations of moose and caribou,” Palin said. She quoted the Alaska Constitution’s provision that fish and game be used and managed for “sustained yield.”

Halcro said predator control — including aerial wolf hunting — is appropriate in some areas, but only if the governor and the commissioner of Fish and Game are deciding when and where predators are to be killed. He said the decision should not be up to the seven-member Game Board, which he said isn’t accountable to the public.

Knowles said: “I do not support aerial wolf hunting. If you ask almost any hunter, guide, they’ll say it’s not hunting, it’s killing.”

But he said predator control is a legitimate wildlife management tool if it’s based on science and conducted by the state in a humane and efficient manner.

Asked later in the day for clarification — what type of wolf control is OK, if not aerial killing? — Knowles spokeswoman Patty Ginsburg said Knowles is opposed to aerial wolf hunting by the public, but not necessarily aerial killing conducted by the state.

Tom Remington