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Alaska's wolf-control program deserves to be killed itself

November 23, 2004 | Wolves

Published Sunday, Nov. 21, 2004 Fairbanks Daily News-Miner Fairbanks, Alaska

The Daily News Miner’s Nov. 7, 2004 editorial (A howlin good time) clearly illustrates how seriously Alaskans are misled about the current rash of aircraft-assisted wolf-shooting programs.

As an animal advocacy group that represents hundreds of Alaska members, Friends of Animals holds the interest and right to express our views about the ethics and treatment of wolves and other free-living animals, and to condemn aerial shotgunning as a morally corrupt act regardless of who pumps the bullets.

Times have changed; ideas have evolved. A civilized society abandons violent, ignorant wolf persecution campaigns as shameful conduct. Jon Coleman, author of the new book Vicious: Wolves And Men In America explains, wolf-haters seek “mementos of power…a stockpile of masculine totems—guns, skins and their victims’ heads—helped a small man feel big.”

The unlawful wolf-killings that prompted the criminal charges imposed on one of three hunter-pilot teams permitted by the state to shoot wolves near McGrath is utterly predictable. Permit-holders may well view the shooting opportunity as open-ended, and go anywhere to kill wolves. It’s lucky that David Haeg and Tony Zellers were caught.

The Daily News-Miner’s editorial skips the facts about the McGrath wolf-control program. Originally, the McGrath area included 1,700 sq. miles. Wolf killers couldn’t find any wolves in this area despite Alaska’s Department of Fish & Game’s (ADF&G’s) assurances that the area contained too many wolves, so ADF&G expanded the control area to provide wolves to kill.

The Board of Game regulation that authorized the McGrath program allows the aerial killing of every last wolf that can be found in this 3,000 sq. mile area, for an unspecified number of winters. This regulation requires only that 20 wolves be left alive in the entirety of 8,500-square-mile GMU 19D east, which includes the 3,000-square-mile control area. Thus it is accurate for Friends of Animals to have said that the state intends to annihilate the wolves within the 3,000 sq. mile McGrath control area. Contrary to the News-Miner’s editorial that “several dozen” wolves would be left in the 3,000 sq. mile control area following aerial wolf-shooting, there is no such requirement.

Moreover, under the McGrath “adaptive management” plan, the state will assist trappers and hunters to keep wolves suppressed in the control area each winter, after the formal control program ends. New wolves will colonize the region year-to-year, dispersing from near and distant areas into the vacancies created each winter in the wolf-control area.

It’s likely that far more than 50 wolves will be shot during the life of the McGrath control program. And there will be many more wolf deaths in the other formal and de facto control areas.

The arguments advanced by wolf control proponents and their government apologists, don’t prove that there are low moose numbers—these claims would not survive a quality scientific, let alone ethical, review. Scrutiny is absent because of the inherent prejudice of the decision-making Board of Game that favors the savagery of pumping wolves full of bullets to rid the land of sentient animals they’re bent on dominating with vicious determination.

The latest wolf control program to be authorized for the Fortymile region may illustrate better than any others the state’s dishonesty. From 1997–2001, the state completed a so-called non-lethal wolf control program in that region in which wolves were sterilized and relocated. The promotions surrounding that effort promised that if caribou numbers increased to the specified objective, wolf numbers would be allowed to not only recover but increase above their pre-control level. Fat chance. Although caribou numbers have increased beyond the objective (more likely in spite of than because of the control effort), the state is reneging on its promise and is replacing it with yet another aerial control program.

Friends of Animals will continue to challenge the legality of Alaska’s aerial wolf-control programs in court this year, and we’re running ads and organizing a new series of Howl-In protests around the country and internationally to activate a broad-based coalition of people who respect free-living wolves. Together we pledge to boycott summer travel to Alaska until the state evolves ethically, and the aerial shot-gunning of wolves ends.

Priscilla Feral is president of Friends of Animals, which is based in Darien, Conn.


Yes indeed! We have become a morally bankrupt society that sanctions killing defenseless humans and non-humans. I am an American who is completely ashamed of this mentality.

I see you will not publis comments from people who do not agree with you. That is your right;but I feel your ad that is running here in Alaska is way of base, and is full of half truths and lies. For your information my wife is 3/4 Yupik Eskimo. Her Morther and Father are 1/2. The people here are mostly Native. We live off the land . We shut down the out of state hunters and guides. We are in a battle to get the herds back. But our Preditor popultion is too Large; and must be reduse, for all to servive. My father inlaw saw 3 wolfs this past weekend. I saw fresh tracks last week. WE have too many wolfs here. If you like them so much why don't come here and take some back to your home state. I am sure they were their at one time if they are not now. Maybe you should post other veiw point rather than disccrimatory.I shall be back to visit an I shall tell others about your site. It does have some good points, But all side should be heard. Lastly, I live in Aniak, a small village on an Island on the Kuskwim River at the mouth of the Aniak River. If you wish to see Wolfs , Fell free to visit Aniak. We don't have much in 4 star hotels but we have a fine B&B here. An I am sure we could find you someone to show you around . And maybe even see a Wolf if you are lucky.

Hi David, I'm not sure I understand what you mean by wolf behaviour. Nature may not be fair-- but wolves, and our hunter-gathering ancestors killed to survive, not for some idea of fun. I don't think we can place "survival of the fittest", or "might makes right" outside of this context. Very few human societies need to hunt in order to survive. For the rest of us, meat eating is a choice; and certainly, sport hunting does not qualify as something 'natural'.

REAL MEN DON'T SHOOT WOLVES! Re: Alaska Board of Game Votes to allow hunters to shoot up to 900 Wolves from Airplanes U.S. Citizens using airplanes to shoot down defenseless wolves on Alaskan snow fields, personifies America today. The government's sanctioned killing of 900 wolves in this manner is shocking. Before Bush came to power, this would never have been tolerated by the American public. The Public's complacency now is not all that surprising when you consider U.S. Citizens now turn a blind-eye to American forces in Fallujah shooting down unarmed civilians, targeting hospitals and forcing emergency care patients into the street to die. One must wonder what is the mental state of Americans who get-off by shooting unarmed civilians in Fallujah or defenseless wolves from airplanes trying to cross Alaska's snow fields in winter. What is the mental state of the Alaska Board of Game that voted for this killing, the aerial shooting of 900 wolves? Is a hunter a real hunter, a real man, if they use an airplane to run down a wolf to exhaustion, then shoot it at point-blank range? If this is aerial slaughter of 900 wolves is allowed to take place, Americans should consider the current mental state of their country. R. Striker

Dear Priscilla, I can't believe it is that time again. I fight everyday on my network at Care2 to help the Wolves. I just can not understand what they think is right. They sell license to kill moose and yet still blame the wolves for them in decreasing numbers. It is nothing more than for them to get their kicks out of hunting. If you can call running them to exhaustion and then being 100 feet in the air while they shoothunting. I will do what is ever needed to help our wolves.

These control programs are so dishonest. Thanks, Priscilla, for your very strong presentation of the facts, including Coleman's assessment of hunters.

Having a biological connection to human hunters for more than three million years I feel a connection to past hunter-gathers, wolves as a part of evolution of life on this planet. My summer spent in the Yellowstone Ecosystem caused an epiffany with grizzlies and wolves and has changed my whole outlook of life, mine and others. As a school teacher, daily, I see "wolf" behavior in my students. Most of the behavior is learned from parents and other adults (appropriate and not). There are many lessons to be learned from wolves and nature. It's sad and upsetting to see adults, organizations and wolves, grizzlies and other wildlife in such conflict. How can the state of a Alaska (ie. aerial wolf control)and wildlife organizations be at such seemingly dimetrically opposed ends of the earth on how to manage? Where's the hard science? Where's the scientific proof? The emotional costs are staggering and the financial costs borne by local citizens through taxes and out of state hunters through licenses fees diverted to lawsuit offense/defense seems like such a waste. Not to mention, the resources spent by wildlife and conservation organizations are going in a direction which doesn't seem like the efforts get on the ground. That is, monies and human effort don't go to the target species. It all seems so unfair... Fairness is a person-made idea and has nothing to do with nature. It's survival of the fittest. Some-How, humans want to put "fairness" into nature... db


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