Aerial Wolf Hunting Banned In Alaska -- For Now

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In Alaska, pilots have been banned from shooting at wolves while flying. The practice, which has been allowed since 2003, was protested by animal-rights groups. A Superior Court judge ruled last week that the state agency in charge had failed to meet its own rules for conducting the hunt. Wildlife advocates welcomed the decision, saying the hunt was not necessary for predator control, but was lobbied for by trophy hunters who compete with the wolves for moose. Gov. Frank Murkowski said the ban will not last. "I stand firmly behind the state's predator control programs, which are based upon sound science," he said in a statement. "The ruling is a minor setback," said Commissioner McKie Campbell, who heads the state's wildlife agency. "The programs have been invalidated based upon the judge's finding that the Board of Game's regulations are 'internally inconsistent.' The state can make its regulations consistent." Campbell said he is working to ensure that the interruption to the aerial hunt is "as short as possible." About 445 wolves have been killed by airborne hunters since 2003.