Alaska Misuses Federal Wildlife Aid on Killing Predators
Penalize Alaska for Diverting Conservation Dollars to Intensive Management
Washington, DC — The State of Alaska illegally diverts millions of dollars in federal wildlife conservation aid to support prohibited predator control that dispatches hundreds of wolves and bears each year to increase the number of moose and caribou, according to a complaint filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service which administers the federal funds. The complaint seeks to bar Alaska from further aid until it repays all misused money with interest.
Currently, Alaska operates the nation’s most aggressive predator removal program (called “Intensive Management”) using primarily federal dollars earmarked to “conserve all wildlife.” The latest figures show nearly three-quarters of Alaska’s IM program comes from this federal conservation fund with less than 1% of budgeted activity ineligible for federal support. The state maintains federal dollars used for “survey and inventory” to locate and target predators for lethal removal is allowed so long as they do not pay for the actual “lethal removal” of animals.
“The State of Alaska should stop scamming federal wildlife aid to support its utterly misguided attempts to operate a vast game farm,” said Rick Steiner, a retired University of Alaska professor and PEER Board Chair. “Beyond being both illegal and inhumane, available evidence strongly suggests that Alaska’s Intensive Management program fails to hike populations of game animals.”
Alaska’s Intensive Management program has long been a lightning rod of controversy for use of tactics such as shooting wolves from aircraft and allowing inhumane practices such as bear baiting, killing wolves and bears in winter dens, and hunting predators with lights and dogs. Now, a new comprehensive review by retired state biologists concluded that Alaska’s IM program has been ineffective, failing “to achieve management objectives for moose harvests or otherwise affect the harvest of those large herbivores.”
The PEER complaint aims at barring Alaska from using any federal funds to support salaries or expenses of staff engaged in predator control or tracking of wolves and bears to facilitate their elimination. In addition, it seeks to force the state to repay all misspent funds with interest. PEER also has a rulemaking petition pending before the Fish & Wildlife Service to crack down on any state use of federal funds to support excessive predator removal practices.
“Alaska’s use of conservation aid for predator control blatantly violates federal guidelines,” stated Pacific PEER Director Jeff Ruch, noting that PEER is currently suing the Fish & Wildlife Service to obtain the last federal audit of the state’s program. “The Fish & Wildlife Service needs to stop functioning as an ATM for state game agencies and start exercising responsible oversight of federal conservation funds.”