Search Our Site

Search form


A Friends of Animals Report: Wolf Control in the Fortymile Region

January 07, 2005 | Wolves

Special Update based on interview with Dr. Gordon Haber in Alaska January, 2005 -- The Fortymile program, authorized in November 2004, is now in final stages of preparation. This, the latest in a series of wolf control programs authorized in Alaska since the autumn of 2003, covers 6,600 square miles of the Fortymile region, about a hundred miles east of Fairbanks.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) has already received aerial hunting permit applications from at least eight private pilot-gunner teams, and might soon issue permits to begin the wolf-killing in this area. Friends of Animals is doing everything possible in the Alaska court system to try to prevent this from happening. Estimates at this time would be based largely on guesswork, but if the Fortymile killing does begin, permittees are likely to shoot up to 100-200 wolves this winter, and (factoring in the wolves' recolonization) similar numbers in each of the next four or more winters. Hundreds of additional wolves will be shot each winter in the four other control programs that are already underway elsewhere across the state. The Fortymile control program stands out from the others in several ways; yet it shares the same absence of biological justification, beginning with the unsupported claims about moose and moose-hunting problems.

Use of radio collars

This is the first of the five control programs in which radio collars would be used. ADF&G will deny that anyone would directly track the groups with radios; direct radio tracking isn't necessary, however, for biologists to derive information from the collars in order to make the killing easier in this area.

Donate to Friends of Animals to Protect Wolves

The collars would allow state biologists to gather information about the movements, territories, and current group sizes of these wolves. Biologists can then pass this information to the aerial-gunning teams, enabling the teams to choose the best areas within which to track wolves through the snow. As of early January, snow conditions in the Fortymile region were highly conducive to tracking wolves. Wolves were traveling chest-deep in the snow in some areas, incurring a potential double-whammy from aerial hunters: Wolves might be unable to flee the approaching aircraft in such snow; and in it, their deeply-rutted trails are more easily observed.

Looking the other way

The Fortymile control area includes federal as well as state lands. The Fortymile National Wild and Scenic River Corridor follows most of the Fortymile main branches and major tributaries throughout the area. Wolves travel the frozen river routes regularly during the winter, and so will the aerial hunters who want to find and kill them. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management administers this national area but has elected to look the other way instead of using its authority to keep aerial hunters out. The National Park Service is doing much the same, refusing even to politely remind the state that at least several large family groups of wolves, residents of the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, commonly travel into the adjacent Fortymile control area. Aerial hunters would have a relatively easy time finding these relatively large groups, because of their more obvious snow trails.

A final betrayal?

From 1997 to 2001, state biologists chased Fortymile wolves with helicopters in order to apprehend and sterilize the alpha pairs, and remove the other members of each family group to locations hundreds of miles away. Many -- especially the bewildered young -- became easy fodder for hunters and trappers in their new, unfamiliar surroundings. The state claimed that it wanted to increase the number of Fortymile caribou -- which has now more than doubled -- and that it would then allow these wolf populations to recover, and even surpass their previous numbers. Three years later, the state is reneging on this promise. Some of the sterilized wolves that survived the terrible ordeals of seeing their family groups ripped apart in the earlier control program are still alive in the Fortymile. If the newest plan proceeds, they may face a final ordeal of being blasted away with shotguns from above.


It's hard to believe biologists are still engaging in pseudo-science. They begin with acceptance of hunting, and then fit their theories, and recommendations accordingly. That is not true science.

This is the WORSE thing that I have ever heard of. Alaska is supposed to be land of beauty, not slauter. My husband and I have been talking about vacationing in Alaska...there is NO WAY WE WILL EVER GO THERE NOW!!! I have sent this web address on to many people, who in turn will do the same, together we will stop people from visiting this "once beautiful" land. How is it that this BUTCHER Governor remains the governor? Why hasn't that been addressed yet?

Ever heard of shooting fish in a barrel?? How can the wholesale slaughter of wolves be condoned? This is atrocious!! There is a huge difference between butchers hunting moose for sport and wolves hunting to survive. You think decimating the wolf population to increase the moose population a viable option? What are you going to kill to bring back the wolf population? Whatever is the governor of Alaska thinking?? Mary Stefanik

i am so discusded about the whole subject in general. the govenor should be embarassed. I always wanted to go to Alaska, but not anymore. how about us ariel around Alaska with are guns and have the humans who condone this and shoot at them. see hoe they like it..

I think that it's absolutely horrible. Why don't they just let all the animals thrive and let nature do it's thing. How would you like to be fixed, separated from your family and then have your head blow off by some moose meat crazed idiot. I'm doing a school project on this article and i think all my classmates will agree with me when I say that this whole ordeal is very, very cruel.

I wonder how many of you people sympathise with the poor cow/pig/chicken you eat with your daily meals. It seems to me it is much better to run free for a while, then maybe be shot, than it is to spend your entire life in a pen, being fed "optimally", then slaughtered (notice correct spelling) for human consumption. Lest we forget, if our forefathers were not hunters, your conservative agenda would not exist, nor would you. As far as bringing back the wolf here in the Adirondacks of NY a word to the wise, don't waste your time and money, they will not survive the rigors of deer season! Sincerely hope y'all have the intestinal fortitude to post this message.

Lawrence, At the top of every page on this website Friends of Animals has clearly stated our mission, which reads: *Friends of Animals works to cultivate a respectful view of nonhuman animals, free-living and domestic. Our goal is to free animals from cruelty and institutionalized exploitation around the world.* Not only is Friends of Animals opposed to hunting in all its forms, we are also opposed to the breeding, raising and slaughter of domesticated animals. That free-living animals are just that—free—does not make their murderous death any less objectionable. It is best that all nonhuman animals be free from exploitation—be it hunting, or animal-based agriculture. Daniel Hammer Friends of Animals

I am ashamed of and appalled at my fellow human beings for this barbaric and obscene injustice to our wolf family. Isn’t there enough hatred and violence in our world? Yet there exist the ignorant and greedy who persist in perpetuating cruelty. My only peace is found in the knowledge that all of you who engage and contribute to this atrocity will eventually be held accountable. None of us get out of this world alive and the spiritual debt you are accumulating will need to be redeemed. The true justice would perhaps be found in your next lifetime where you will return as one of the hunted. I say NO to Alaska’s governor Frank Murkowski! Be gravely ashamed of yourself, and I wonder, how well do you sleep at night? Please obtain a copy of Barry Lopez’s wonderful book, “Of Wolves And Men” educate yourself and then reconsider your choices. “We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals...” Henry Beston, The Outermost House

Add new comment