By Mike O’Meara
“Do something, even if it’s wrong.”
I once knew a guy who said that a lot. We all get frustrated at times, but when impatience gets the best of reason, it’s easy to get in trouble.
Looks like that’s where the Alaska Board of Game has put us. With an army of would-be moose hunters baying at its heels, the board of game did something — even though it was wrong. Pretty soon people will be blasting away at Kenai Peninsula wolves out of airplanes.
No question, it’s a lot harder to get your moose than it used to be. But shooting up the few peninsula wolves isn’t likely to help. Science and history both clearly show that wolves aren’t the problem. It’s lack of habitat in area 15A, too many cows and not enough bulls in 15C. And overpopulation – too many hunters – in both. Even the board of game admits that.
Still, it looks like a done deal.
Up north, Alaska Fish and Game guys will do the strafing, but down in area 15C, there will be permits for just about anyone who wants to shred fur from a super cub.
Now wolves aside, this opens up a whole new can of worms.
A bunch of area 15C includes what city planners like to call the “rural/urban interface.” Mostly open territory – grass, trees and pucker brush, especially alders. But lots of folks live out there in the weeds. There are kids, pets and livestock wandering around. Some of the buildings blend in so well you can hardly see them.
“Joe six-pack” shooting wolves out of an airplane raises some real basic public safety, property rights and liability issues.
Rules of the Federal Aviation Administration nix flying that Super Cub below 500 feet near people, vehicles or structures — even out in the boonies. Legal precedent holds that property rights extend to the air above your land. That wolf hunter can’t legally fly over or even nearby in a way that endangers people and property, or interferes with use and enjoyment of your land. Do you figure the would-be wolf busters know that?
What if a stray bullet puts a hole in my living room or car window? What about my dog, or the neighbor kid out setting snares under some bush? Who’s liable for damages? Will it be the shooter? The pilot? How about that Fish and Game employee who handed out the permit? Or maybe the whole board of game?
The Alaska regulation (5 AAC 92.039) governing aerial wolf shooting permits doesn’t provide any answers.
Mike O’Meara is a long-time Homer resident, an artist and advocate on certain public issues.
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