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Alaska's predator control program now allows hunters to use bear paw snares

March 10, 2009 |  1:20 pm

Blackbear1

About the same time Alaska's Mt. Redoubt volcano was downgraded from orange to yellow, meaning an eruption is less likely, the state's Board of Game set off its own fireworks by announcing new guidelines in a predator control program that now allows the use of paw snares to catch and kill bears, and helicopters for access.

You may recall the criticism leveled at Gov. Sarah Palin during her bid to become vice president over her support for the aerial hunting of wolves as part of the program.

Under new guidelines, hunters can use snares to trap black bears in a specific area and can access the area via private helicopters. As for wolves, state employees are now authorized to use poison gas to kill orphaned wolf pups in dens (orphaned, presumably, after aerial hunting).

Most existing wolf-kill programs have been renewed, and the board did reject a highly controversial plan by the state's Department of Fish and Game to allow private hunters to shoot wolves from helicopters east of Fairbanks, along the Canadian border.

Naturally, the program is again under fire. In a story in the Anchorage Daily News, Defenders of Wildlife spokesman Wade Willis said, "Those are all big expansions based on just the desperate nature of the Board of Game and the [Department of Fish and Game] to be successful. Their backs are against the wall. Really how much farther can you go?"

Overall, the program is designed to remove enough predators to allow other animals, such as moose and caribou, to rebound and flourish.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: A black bear in Alaska stands and takes notice. Credit: Associated Press

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