A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. – Albert Einstein.
by Anai Rhoads
AnaiRhoads.org — Friends of Animals mourns the passing of a dear friend, Dr. Gordon Haber. Gordon was a co-worker in the cause of fairness in this world, but entirely unlike your typical activist. Without an interest in furthering his own name, Gordon inspired others to join in the cause to save the most misunderstood and wrongfully feared animals in all the world – the wolves. Gordon’s passing should not be the end to a lifetime of work devoted to the wolves he respected and loved so dearly, as he left behind an encyclopedia of knowledge – research that will benefit those who will now follow in his footsteps.
For decades, Gordon advocated for wolves who wandered outside of the Denali Park National Park and Preserve’s boundaries, where they constantly ran the risk of being hunted or trapped. In his early 20’s, he began studying wolves as a temporary park service employee. It was 1966.
Gordon Haber quickly became a prominent figure, battling it out with other biologists in the National Park Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game – and overcoming a multitude of obstacles to protect his revered Toklat wolf pack.
On October 14, 2009, Gordon Haber set out to fly over Denali with his newly appointed pilot, Daniel McGregor.
The two began their flight at noon and were expected to return by nightfall. By midnight, there was no word of the team, and the park service was notified that the plane was overdue.
The plane was eventually spotted among trees on a mountainside near the east fork of the Toklat River, approximately seven miles downstream from the park road. The 67 year-old biologist’s remains were discovered by the National Park Service in the burned wreckage of a Cessna 185, located on a steep slope.
The badly burned McGregor managed to survive the crash and was discovered by two backpackers after he had spent hours walking some 20 miles. He confirmed the body in the wreckage was that of Gordon Haber.
Dr. Gordon Haber began working with Friends of Animals in 1993 as an independent contractor. He conducted aerial surveys of wolves, studied their relationships to each other and to other animals, and developed scientific arguments to help with legal challenges. A number of these arguments blew holes in the reports fashioned for the state of Alaska.
His on-the-ground observations were conducted during the summer months inside Denali. During the fall, winter and spring, Friends of Animals supported the flights around the entirety of the wolf control areas, allowing the monitoring of wolf families, and producing reports on targeted and missing wolves.
Priscilla Feral, president of FoA, fondly remembered her good friend and colleague’s “child-like wonder and never-ending awe when watching and hearing about the wolves he cherished,” and recalled: “He took me inside Denali many summers. I watched wolves run, chase prey, play with others, and go about their business of living. I jogged down the road inside Denali — yards away from a female wolf from the Toklat family who was searching for ground squirrels. It’s a favorite memory; one I’ll always treasure. Gordon’s heart and mind were exquisite.”
Priscilla Feral and Gordon Haber met at a wolf summit former Alaska governor Walter Hickel had arranged, to which FoA was invited after Hickel called off the state-sponsored wolf control program. Friends of Animals had called for a tourism boycott in the fall of 1992. It had such an impact on bookings for summer travel to Alaska that Hickel cancelled the killing scheme.
Priscilla Feral continued reflecting.
“Cantankerous on a personal level, so he didn’t make a habit of cultivating friends, as all his energies were devoted to wolves. But he had the brilliance and moxie to stand up to wolf -haters in all forms. Bureaucrats, other scientists. He put wolves first, exposing the wrongs in public policies, and the state’s biologists who create them with their result-oriented science. Gordon expected me to talk about the ethics, so that’s how we defined our roles. He was an expert at challenging the state’s data on moose, caribou and wolves. Gordon would shine a light on the lies that installed the obscene killing plans.”
The wolves were heard howling when the small aircraft was found. Do they mourn their greatest advocate, as we do?
A memorial is planned for November 7. Donations in Gordon Haber’s memory may be sent to:
Friends of Animals
777 Post Road
Darien, CT 06820
You may also make a donation online at https://www.friendsofanimals.org.