A friend passed along his take on George Miller's proposed Protecting America's Wildlife amendment to federal law, and I thought it well worth sharing with the crew here. It's also worth reading Governor Palin's response to this, excerpted and linked below.
Congressman Miller's proposal is a big hit with the Defenders of Wildlife crowd who have lost no opportunity to bad mouth Alaska and our wolf management. Wolves are a big money-maker for DOW.
This is actually a lot bigger than just Alaska,…and I wonder if many realize it. I’m surprised that agencies in other states haven’t come unglued. My read through the amendment and the existing law is that despite Miller’s intent, a state could probably still have a predator control program. But one thing that is changed is that Joe Pilot would no longer be able to hunt ducks, ptarmigan, deer, or caribou (GMUs 8 and 22) etc. the same day as airborne.
The 1972 amendment (Airborne Hunting Act) to the Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 was directed at prohibiting the shooting FROM a plane. Miller’s amendment will make it illegal to hunt the same day that a person has been airborne,…whether that person is still in the plane or has left the plane and is on the ground and miles away. And that’s not just in Alaska, but nation-wide. This amendment flies right in the face of state (all states) management of their wildlife resources. It’s a restriction on methods and means of hunting,…which has always been the prerogative of individual states. His amendment goes way beyond prohibiting shooting from an aircraft.
The civil suit aspect of it is also interesting. It would allow anyone to take an agency to court over this on their own behalf. That seems pretty unique. Usually you have to show that you, as an individual, have been harmed by some action. It appears that the language in the amendment would allow anyone to enjoin a lawsuit against a person or agency that is alleged to be in violation of the Act. That would be a good question to ask a lawyer.
Miller is obviously attacking Alaska, but I think he may also be up against every other state in the nation where anyone uses aircraft.This is the press statement put out by Miller about his proposed legislation.
Alaska Governor Sarah Palin wrote plain, hard words to Congressman Miller in a letter late in September. Here are two excerpts:
You have misconstrued the reality of life in Alaska and the importance of wild game as food to the people of this state. You displayed a shocking lack of understanding of wildlife management in the North and the true structure and function of Alaska's predator control programs. You have threatened the very foundations of federalism and the state's abilities to manage their own affairs as they see fit.and another:
With all due respect, Congressman Miller, you failed to do your homework.Here is the full text of a press release from the Governor's office:
Governor Sarah Palin today criticized Congressman George Miller’s (D-CA) legislation to eliminate an important element of wildlife management by the State of Alaska.
“Moose and caribou are important food for Alaskans, and Congressman Miller’s bill threatens that food supply,” said Governor Palin. “Congressman Miller doesn’t understand rural Alaska, doesn’t comprehend wildlife management in the North, and doesn’t appreciate the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that gives states the right to manage their own affairs.”
Miller’s bill would ban the shooting of wolves from aircraft, a component of moose and caribou management plans in five specific areas of Alaska. Predation can keep populations of large game animals at persistently low levels, limiting or eliminating opportunities for Alaskans to secure wild game for food.
Governor Palin is in agreement with Alaska Congressman Don Young, who announced yesterday his opposition to Miller’s bill, emphasizing that it is an affront to the sovereignty of American states guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
“This bill would be an unprecedented federal incursion into traditional State management of fish and resident wildlife,” said Palin. “If the federal government can do this to Alaska today, it can do it to any other state tomorrow. The other states, particularly the western public land states, should join us in expressing their indignation.”
Contrary to what Representative Miller said in Washington yesterday, there is no “aerial hunting” of wolves in Alaska, the Governor said. “Our science-driven and abundance-based predator management program involves volunteers who are permitted to use aircraft to kill some predators in specified areas of the state where we are trying to increase opportunities for Alaskans to put healthy food on their families’ dinner tables. It is not hunting and we have never claimed that it is.”
Governor Palin said she will contact several other members of Congress to encourage them not to support Congressman Miller’s effort.
“It appears to me that the Congressman has been inadvertently drawn into service as a fundraiser for national animal rights organizations that commonly spread inaccurate information about Alaska’s game management programs, and with which we are in court on these issues right now,” said Palin.
Wildlife management policy in Alaska is set by the Alaska Board of Game, a public body appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Alaska State Legislature. The Board deliberates by weighing evidence at public meetings. Testimony comes from Alaska Department of Fish and Game scientists, non-governmental organizations, and private citizens. Governor Palin stressed today that wolf and bear populations are extremely healthy in this state, and that predator control is intended to create more opportunities for humans to harvest moose and caribou for food, while maintaining healthy populations of predators.
“Our goal is to always have healthy populations of all wildlife, including wolves,” Palin said. “Alaska is the only state that still harbors a full complement of both large ungulates and large predators.”