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Winter 2005 - Act•ionLine

by Priscilla Feral | Winter 2005

In My View

The government of Alaska hopes to launch five new provisions to facilitate the hunting of moose and caribou. The measures, meant to cover an area the size of Maine, involve more aerial wolf-shooting. And they're about to begin, unless a lawsuit by Friends of Animals succeeds.

We go to press while the court in Anchorage determines whether the state's current wolf-control scheme is against the law. If so, state permits for private hunters-pilot teams will be void.

Since November 2003, these airborne teams have chased and ultimately killed at least 420 wolves, leaving Alaska's wolf communities in tatters.

It costs more than $70 per hour to fly a Super Cub, the aircraft of choice for wolf-hunters. And according to an official with an Alaska's Department of Fish and Game, the typical hunter spends at least $4,400 to buy up a lot of fuel, ride through the air, and kill wolves in a permit scheme that lands about $270 for each pelt. A given hunter might be competing with a hundred or so others in a given season.

Friends of Animals' campaign continues to challenge the group of Alaska politicians who alternatively contrive and inflate numbers of wolves and other predator species to justify licensing this carnage. For the east-central area known as the Forty-mile region of Alaska, Governor Murkowski's hand-picked Board of Game has now approved several aircraft-assisted wolf and grizzly bear gunning schemes, with promises of less competition for hunters who go out to track down moose and caribou.

We think the world community should have something to say about the treatment of wolves and other free-living animals. The home of these animals is not Alaska or any state. Their home is the territory that nature developed for them on this planet.

Many hundreds of thousands of people, both inside and outside of Alaska, evidently agree. They have endorsed and supported the Friends of Animals tourism boycott. By spending their holiday cash elsewhere, the wolves' supporters refuse to reward the Murkowski administration for deploying an air force to destroy wolves and bears. Tourism is important to the administration, and money speaks a language the governor understands. Until we halt the wolf-control scheme — through the courts of the state or the court of world opinion — we'll keep urging our members, our supporters, travel agents, and any individuals or groups planning outings to keep that financial pressure on.

Bears are also in particular danger in New Jersey, where 4,000 hunters have applied for bear-hunting permits. Tragically, on November 15, 2005, New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bradley Campbell abandoned reason, and, citing a rise in estimated bear populations, approved the shooting of hundreds of black bears from December 5 to December 10 in northwestern New Jersey. As we go to press, we're appealing to reason through a campaign of non-violent protests. Until reason prevails, the cycle continues.

The bear hunt will not keep surviving bears out of people's yards if bears associate people with food. That's why people must change their habits, and also their expectations. Residents of bear country need to learn how to use bear-proof canisters — not to accept state "tests" which only issue the containers to certain areas and leave other communities as control groups. Not to drill holes in the bins as in the case of one well-meaning Scout leader who believed that doing so would protect children who stray into the bins. Residents of bear country and beyond need to learn to live with risks, and to teach our children safety and reasonableness, not fear and loathing.

We did enjoy one ray of hope in early November. After Friends of Animals and other environmental groups and activists advertised and campaigned mightily, Congress dropped language in its proposed budget legislation that would have allowed oil drilling and exploration in the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This is wilderness — a unique, roadless land of mountains and broad, lake-filled plains — a part of the North little touched by the 21st century, or the first.

Despite pressure from the White House and the influence of the major oil interests, enough lawmakers chose to listen to environmental concerns on November 9, 2005. On that day, the House of Representatives removed the oil drilling provision from the bill, even though six days earlier the Senate passed its own version that would have enabled massive oil development in the Arctic Refuge. We go to press hoping that the drilling enterprises' wishes will not be reinstated in the bill presented to the full Congress for a final vote.

At this time in our activist history we must cherish and nurture nonviolent activism, and know that although success isn't instant, it will result from persistent, intelligent efforts, and from building and uniting our movement on ethical, progressive principles for change. I'd like to express my profound thanks to you for the support which makes this effort possible.

Priscilla Feral

Act•ionLine Winter 2005

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