Pilots and aerial gunners will not be collecting $150 bounties on wolves killed as part of Alaska's four year-old predator control program, thanks to a temporary restraining order imposed by a state superior court judge.
The judge's ruling came as a result of a motion filed by Defenders of Wildlife, the Alaska Wildlife Alliance, and the Alaska Chapter of the Sierra Club.
The bounty was offered as an incentive to volunteer pilots and aerial gunners, due to what Commissioner Denby Lloyd of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game termed the "low wolf take" so far this season.
LLoyd did not elaborate of reasons for not meeting the 382-664 quota, but pilots said that fuel prices were too high to fly.
"There are also fewer wolves to kill now because of kills in past years," said Matt Robus, Division of Wildlife Conservation director.
Animal advocates such as Defenders of Wildlife also claim that the residents of Alaska are slowly becoming turned off by the program, and the added bounty, which would be collected when pilots and gunners turned in left forelegs of killed wolves, reportedly to help biologists determine their ages and assist future programs, has added to the furor.
The Board of Game, sounding as if its members are all heart, recently urged Governor Sarah Palin (R), who is an avid hunter, to allow the staff to shoot the wolves from helicopters, pointing out that choppers can hover close to packs, take deadlier aim, and thus be more humane.
Palin chose cash incentives, saying they are cheaper than renting helicopters.
It is estimated that there are between 7,000 - 11,000 wolves in Alaska. It is claimed that some 600 have been killed since the program's inception. Many voters have twice opted to restrict the aerial gunning programs and hopefully put an ending to them.
"We expect Governor Palin to listen to Alaskans," said Tom Banks, Defenders of Wildlife associate in Alaska.