In My View Summer 2004
This year, 147 wolves were the first to die under Alaska’s recently reinstated aerial wolf “control” scheme — designed to appease the moose hunters and thrill-seeking hunter-pilot teams whose dogma supports eradicating predators to boost hunting opportunities.
Alaska’s state-sponsored aerial wolf-gunning program ended April 30, and will begin again next fall or winter as soon as there is enough snow for tracking wolves from airplanes and helicopters. Hundreds more wolves will be killed over the next several winters unless we can convince Alaska to halt the activity.
At a meeting in March, Alaska’s Board of Game expanded the shooting spree by also going after bears, and approving wolf “control” in two additional areas of the state encompassing about 20,000 square miles. It appears the board is implementing its blueprint for wolf “control” for most of Alaska. And, the board, bent on erasing any progress made during former Gov. Tony Knowles’s administration, also reduced the no-hunting or trapping buffer zone outside Denali National Park, leaving it sorely inadequate for Denali’s wolves.
This turn for the worse didn’t escape the attention of an editorial writer for The New York Times, who wrote “there’s nothing sporting about deploying an air force to hunt animals… In Alaska the age-old war on wolves has resumed with all its age-old savagery — the savagery of humans, that is.” (Wolf “Control” in Alaska; Sun., March 14, 2004).
FoA members, supporters and other opponents of the wolf-killing program have pointed out its ethical poverty, as well as the scientific deficiency of related claims about moose-hunting problems. So far these arguments have been ignored by Alaska’s Gov. Frank Murkowski.
Persistence will be the key to ending aerial predator “control” programs. FoA is continuing to contest the legality of the state’s outrageous wolf kill in the Superior Court in Anchorage, and we filed an amended complaint on March 26. We’re committed to another reign of protest after Nov. 1, 2004 to target the summer 2005 tourism season, and we’re directing our full advertising budget for the year on TV and print ads to bolster the Boycott Alaska campaign.
Friends of Animals, joined by more than 100 organizations, and energetic organizers in 28 states, the District of Columbia, Germany, Japan and Great Britain, led 159 Howl-Ins in protest of Alaska’s disgraceful aerial wolf-shooting program. In response, 100,000 people signed and mailed postcards to Gov. Murkowski pledging to boycott travel to Alaska. Countless letters, e-mails and phone calls were also sent from protesters who vowed to boycott Alaska’s $2 billion-a-year tourism industry until the aerial wolf-shooting stops.
As FoA’s Legal Director Lee Hall says about the wolf-killing permits:
“This activity should be stopped, if only because it is a violation of the Alaska statutes. But there are reasons it should be stopped that go deeper than that; and they have to do with the human urge to kill, eat, control, and use every sentient being and every bit of nature, and how such urges must be transcended if we are to survive and become the civilization we claim to be. Ultimately, public opinion (state, national and international) will decide the issue. The administration of Alaska must be pressed to evolve ethically.”