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Aerial wolf control effort begins

December 14, 2005 | Wolves
by TIM MOWRY, published in Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Despite howls of protest from Outside animal-rights groups and a grass-roots campaign to outlaw same-day airborne hunting of wolves, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is going ahead with its controversial effort to produce more moose and caribou for hunters.

The state would like 400 wolves killed this winter, the third year in a row that hunters armed with special permits can shoot wolves from the air or land.

So far, only six wolves have been killed this winter in areas targeted for lethal wolf control, but that number will climb as more pilots take to the air and the amount of daylight and snow increases to make tracking wolves easier, Fish and Game spokeswoman Cathie Harms said.

The state recently issued more than 100 permits to pilots who applied to participate in the program. Pilots, most of whom have "gunners" flying with them, must be approved by the state.

Alaska is home to the largest remaining population of gray wolves in the United States. State biologists estimate some 7,000 to 11,000 wolves roam the state.

More than 400 wolves have been killed since the state began issuing permits to aerial shooters two years ago to reduce wolf populations in specific "intensive management" areas, including a reported harvest of 277 wolves last year...

Priscilla Feral, executive director of Friends of Animals, the animal-rights organization based in Darien, Conn., that has protested Alaska's predator control program by promoting a tourism boycott, is still fighting to stop the state from killing wolves.

While the group is not organizing the "howl-ins" the way it has the past two years, Feral said the group has a suit pending against the state to get the program stopped based on lack of information.

"We're hoping to have the program declared illegal and halted," Feral said. "We're just waiting to hear the judge's ruling to see whether or not we have a trial. We really think this is going to be decided in court."

There's a chance it could be decided by Alaska voters at the ballot box, too.

To read the full article, click here.


Ellie, Although your facts are incorrect, I think your interim conclusion about moving to the city is correct. However, for the reasons that follow, although you did not intend it, your relocation proposal is not a palatable option and borders on ethnic cleansing. The Alaska RR is not really how we get our groceries. Almost 100% is trucked in to major transporation hubs in Anchorage and Fairbanks and then redistributed by air. This second redistribution is what accounts for the tremendous differential in prices once you are off the road system. The Alaska RR transports coal, some large military hardware and other large tonnage items as well as tourists in the summers. You correctly note that subsistence gardening is a possibility south of the Brooks Range. The vegetables that do well here are northern hybrids, particularly ones that do not mind cold soil. Although we do have long daylight, it is at a low angle so the ground does not warm like it does in the midwest. There are ways around this like raised insulated beds, greenhouses, etc. However, this is complicated in rural areas by the limitations on electrical power and running water. The amount of acreage that you can cultivate without these basic resources is limited. Also, I think there is a cultural issue in that Natives do not have a cultural tradition of subsistence farming. Now - where are you correct? 80% of the state population lives near Fairbanks of Anchorage. Another 10% lives around one of the larger cities (I'm omitting Barrow and Bethel from this count as they are larger but still native and very much considered "bush"). These larger cities aren't bush communities by any means. These residents (I'm among them) do have access to grocery stores, gas stations, etc. It would follow that a huge percentage of the moose and caribou hunters also come from these areas. They do not have to hunt to survive. As I noted above, we do it as a form of recreation that I do not expect you to understand. I am at a similar loss to understand the interest in watching people play poker on TV. However, the 10% of the population that lives in the bush truly needs game meat to make economic sense out of living there. We are talking abouta little less than 60,000 people that live in communites of a few dozen to a few thousand. A large amount of their food is gathered and hunted. These communities still have a large number of native language speakers - not just elders, but young people too. The culture, although adapted to interact with our world and economic system, is still largely intact, much more so than in Conneticut. Digression 1 - Keep in mind that man is and has for tens of thousands of years been a very natural part of the Alaska environment. By man, I do mean hunters, not hunted. Alaska has the longest period of human occupation of any part of North America. Many of the animals that remain here contemporaneously with paleoindians. Like man, Cervids in Alaska are distributed circumpolarly. The Alaskan species that survived the extinction of the megafauna co-evolved with man in response to hunting pressure and availability. Digression 2 - Conneticut has a history of native occupation going back 10,000 years. You currently have five reservations occupied by 19 Indian families. You killed or co-opted almost 100% of your natives. Forgive me if i don't believe that you have sufficient facts or moral high ground to tell Alaskans how to deal with our rural economic issues. However, maintaining these towns and villages is very costly. It takes billions just to provide basic health and sanitation services. The cost of housing, food, fuel, and everything else is dramatically higher. The cold economics would probably argue in favor of closing these towns down and moving everyone to the city. This would dramatically reduce hunting pressure on all animals living in rural areas. We have seen the dramatically negative effect that had on lower 48 and Canadian native populations. This forced migration would effectively ethnically cleanse Alaskan natives. There would still be a few who put on shows for the tourists, but the culture, as an intact community, would quickly be swallowed. That is the reason that we have predator control in rural areas - to maximize the available food to allow these communities to survive. To keep people living near their cousins and aunties and grandparents. To allow the foods that they need to survive to be harvested near the communities they live. Why? Because there is something special about a place where everyone doesn't want to live in a city and get a job to pay a mortgage and commute to work and get an i-pod and die of cancer. Because we feel that the Lower 48 model (including Conneticut - when was the last time you saw a family of Pequods living anything approaching a traditional lifestyle) of genocide, forced relocation, and concentration camps is not the way to deal with the Alaska natives. Because the rural parts of the state remind many of us why we came here and stay here. Much like the value of wilderness, even if one never visits such places, it is comforting knowing in the back of our minds that they exist; that we didn't let (or worse, force) them to die away. J

It seems everything is done to please the hunter! Not to control ANYTHING. I guess hunters would have nothing to kill unless the opportunity to kill innocent animals is given to them. Its all down right killing of innocent animals to suit the hunter and thats all. Killing of animals/wildlife does not control anything. What is America etc becoming ,The killing Capital of wildlife .Now they are shooting wolves from the air? C'mon now. This should be stopped immediately, its cruelty at its highest degree. STOP satisfying the hunters and let the wolves live, they are not bothering anyone and YOU know it as does the whole world. WE ARE WATCHING.

M- You're an idiot! It appears to me that you don't know what you're talking about. You sound just like another big city easterner that knows how to save the West. You've done so well in the East-crime, racisism, pollution, poverty, political corruption, etc. Now that you have all the answers you want to share them with us? Thanks but NO THANKS! Too bad there's not a hunting season on you dumbasses. Blog editors' note: Minutes later, this poster wrote a second time. We'll include both messages here, for the sake of economy. It appears that your organization does not allow comments contrary to your agenda. Why let any facts get in the way of a good lynching? Blog editors' note: Apparently this visitor does not know what a lynching is. It would be a good idea to avoid misusing such a word. Fortunately, most of our guests are more prudent.

SAVE THE WOLVES! Nature got along fine without the help from mankind.

Seems like a disgruntled hunter making those remarks. Oh well! Such is life.. I hear now they are training children 8 years and up to be hunters, how pathetic is that??

alaska is not the lower 48 and people depend on the moose to stay at healthy populations to survive in some areas. If you would like to boycott Alaska because some wolves will be hunted, please do.

I think it is ridiculous. Native Americans truly did need to live off of the herds, and there were wolves all much greater numbers than now. They didn't see a need to kill the wolves off in ridiculous numbers to have enough food. If Alaskans are so concerned about their supply of meat, why don't they breed moose and caribou domestically, and let the rest of the ecosystem work the way it is supposed to. Predators have just as much right to live as moose do. Hunting for sport makes Alaska money. That's really what it comes down to. If the wolves eat the game then no one spends money to go there and hunt. It's ridiculous. And just in case any people such as Gregg who can't keep their conversation polite and civilized happen to come in here...I AM a westerner, thank you. What's the matter Gregg...get bit by a wolf once? Not one of your comments was relevent, by the way. All you managed to do was attempt to insult M. Very civilized.

I just want to say that controlling the number of wolves is a good thing. It is not like the mentality of a century ago, where total eradication was the preferred method. I realize that some people have nothing better to do than complain about something, or anything. I am glad that we have adopted a better method of controlling the numbers. We need the predator as much as we need the other animals. I also believe that any official ruling of a given territory is done for the best interest of all concerned. Purhaps the ones that want to change those rulings ought to run for govenor, or mayor, of that territory. Then they could change things to fit their believes.

Sorry Greg, You are a disgruntled hunter, did I hit a nerve?? You seem like a very angry person. Its people like you that love to kill animals/wildlife you made that quite obvious, sorry you feel that way.

This is just a horrible thing to do. Do they look into the fact that if they were to kill the alpha male or the alpha female, or any others of that pack, then they can kill off the entire pack? To them it may be the idea of killing a certain amount of wolves during winter, but really that number is probably increased by a lot more. The pack members are the ones who suffer the most. A loss of one wolf can mean death to all of them, they all work together to hunt down an animal and that formation is lost when one of them is killed. The hunters think that they are only responsible for the deaths of the wolves they kill, which is partially true, but they are also in charge of the many wolf packs that die due to the hunters actions.


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