Will Wilson is a former GOVERNING correspondent.E-mail: email@example.com
Today, Alaska Superior Court Judge Bill Morse will preside over an injunction hearing that should be an unintentional comedy goldmine -- if rather darkly-humored gold.
The issue at stake is whether the Department of Game and Fish can pay small plane pilots $150 apiece for wolves' left forelegs. The state wants the wolves dead in order to prevent overpopulation and wants the legs for scientific research -- very sinister research, we can only imagine.
"Posh!" cry the Defenders of Wildlife, the Alaska Wildlife Alliance and the Alaska Chapter of the Sierra Club. These suit-filing groups contend that the state wants the legs as proof of kill and that any "payment for research purposes" claims are meant to evade the state's anti-bounty law.
Alaska finds itself caught among competing good intentions. Wolf overpopulation would harm moose population. An anti-bounty law sounds nice, but without incentive to shoot, pilots won't help control the population. The pilots are needed because shooting animals from helicopters is also against the law--perhaps chopper gundowns, like euthanasia for humans, raise the "too efficient for good taste" problem.
In trying to balance these competing concerns, the state has handcuffed itself in cross-purposed regulations. And this only covers wolves and moose. What about more nuanced ecological networks?
Written and compiled by staff writers and editors, GOVERNING View is an on-the-ground, and sometimes behind-the-scenes, look at the topics we're covering in print and online. From notes on what's up in statehouses, county courthouses and city halls, to encounters with people, places and things, GOVERNING View is a window into the side of state and local government you don't always see.