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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.

Comments

San, I agree, what is happening to wolves in Alaska is slaughter. The same is true regarding the hunting of deer in Syracuse and other suburban areas. Such needless killing needs to stop. We need to stop trying to control every other animal species on earth and start looking at our own species. It hardly seem rational to talk about “overcrowding” of deer and wolves, and claiming that “we have to kill them to keep their numbers under control,” when the growing human population is a leading cause of habitat loss, as land is cleared to be developed or produce food for humans. It is human population levels that are putting critical stress on global climate conditions to the detriment of all animals—human and nonhuman alike. Daniel Hammer,
Friend of Animals

It is truly slaughter. What really disgustes me is that these people are shooting them from helicopters And for no reason other than trophy. I live in NY and every since the wolves have gone deer are overcrowding us they are even in the citeis like Syracuse. It has come to the point wher we HAVE to kill them to keep their numbers under control. Saving the wolves in YElwostone was only a tiny truimph. UNless we phsyically do something we'll never get our message across. Peopole think of us as "enviromentalists" and that all we do is whine and complain. I for one want my children to see a free wolf!!!

This blog posting came from Thomas J. Classen in Fairbanks, Alaska: A lot of what Gordon writes above is true, but there are exceptions. I have seen some great vegetable gardens in the Brooks Range, but usually the person has a green thumb. They also need a warm building to give plants a start before the snow is off the ground. This is usually not available to most Native families, thus their dependence on animal products. Some villages have a fairly good store, but not much fresh plant food available, and prices are high. If oil money is available, this is not a great problem. For example, the people living in Point Barrow, which has regular air line service, fair better than a remotely located village. I have not been to every village, but it would be safe to say that 99% of them are on or very near a water source, and routinely fish. On the plus side, transportation is subsidized by the government, and there is a lot of welfare received by people in villages. There are also numerous State programs designed to ease the burden of life in a remote village. Thomas J. Classen Fairbanks, Alaska

Ellie, Not sure where you are from , but I don't think you really know the size of Alaska or how hard is to get plant based food or even grow it sometimes, there are place that pay as much as 7 to 10 dollar pound for tomatoes , 4 to 5 dollars for gas, ect Shipping is very high inside of Alaska for most of the state, can only reach by airplanes. Some areas there is not much work for them to buy food , they have to live off the land, For some of the people moose or caribou is there only food, maybe if they are lucky to live near one of the bigger rivers then they get fish in the summer time to dried for their winter food. Before you pass judment on the people of Alaska please look at all sides of issues,

Hi Morgan, To say you love wolves but support killing them makes no sense at all. As Daniel Hammer explained in another thread, wolves are not over-populated; and the male-female ratio of moose are responsible for the decrease in the moose population. If moose were not hunted, this ratio would not be off balance. Also, I don't agree that your choice to eat meat--either steak or moose-- is a matter of survival, since healthy, and far less expensive plant based foods are available. Ellie

Comment sent to Friends of Animals sent week of Dec 6th, 2004 I don’t think you know what you are talking about. People in Alaska love and care about the Wolves; But the Packs are too large. Anti-Fur activists have killed the Fur industry here. As well as the Black and Brown Bear are growing in numbers, so the Moose population has crashed in most Alaska areas. We who LIVE in “BUSH ALASKA” live off the land and the water. WE see what is happening with our animal population. The meat from the moose and caribou does not just feed the wolves and bears, but the people of the villages and towns. A t-bone steak for me cost $10 dollars, sausage and ground beef is the same HIGH cost. So you see we live off the land and the health of the herd is necessary for survival to me and others. So when someone from the **lower 48** thinks they know better and want to intervene and dictate how **we** residents of Alaska should live and co-exist; than **we** who live here, I take exception to their statement. We don#8217;t tell you how to live and co-exist in your area.

We do live in the 21st century, and it's possible to be independent and not think of the other animals in our midst as things made for our use. It will be a great day in the course of human history when we arise from our slumber and understand that our human identity as the Great Consumer is driving our planet to the verge of breakdown. Our own survival and well-being is interwoven with that of every other living being in our midst. Like the caribou and the moose, we are meant to thrive on a diet free of flesh. Our natural harvest is wheat, corn, beans, and fruits. In our modern age, aircraft used to gun down wolves would be of more direct service to Alaskans by carrying the food which our body can best digest. The answers, then, are neither complex nor violent. They do require a change in the way we think. Change and growth can happen to people in Connecticut, in Alaska, or anywhere in the world -- wherever we human primates happen to be. Posted on behalf of Priscilla Feral and Friends of Animals.

As humans, we make our own cholesterol, and other vital nutrients, while carnivores do not. Hence the overload, and illnesses we experience on a meat based diet. There are very few places on this earth where adequate plant foods are not available.

This country is going to hell Watch and see. No one knows what they are talking about When will you all ever learn? For years humans have messed with nature, Now its her turn!

I'm amazed at how stupid and selfish people can be toward wildlife and hunting. I live in Alaska, not too far from were the next proposed aerial wolf hunt is slated to take place. (I understand bears are going to be eliminated as well.)I'm not against hunting and, in fact, truely enjoy the taste and healthiness of wild game in my diet...i.e. moose/caribou. But we don't live in the world it was 100 years ago... or even just 25 years ago years ago here in Alaska where there just wasn't that many hunters out here trying to 'bag' thier year's meat. The populaion of Alaska has grown greatly over resent years and so has, therefore, the numbers of hunters. In times gone by, when man's population impact with hunting was only like that of a spec of sand on the beach, the numbers of prey type animals killed didn't effect any balance in nature of these prey animals to any real degree. Therefore concern for the numbers of preditor animals, wolves/bear, weren't an issue. Only the misbeliefs of unknowing/unenlightened people that feared these preditors, thinking they were lurking around every willow bush... stalking across mountain valley and through the spruce forests, salvitating for the chance to devour a man that they'd attack (so they thought)at every opportunity they could find! That was the only times, for the most part, preditor animals were killed. And 'Mother Nature' never had any problems keeping a balance of both preditor and prey animals through eons of time. Sure, there'd be years of few and years of many, of each type of critters. But in the long run... in the big picture, a balance. Now-a-days though there's just too many hunters out here vying for the prize of an animal or two or three. And we're not hunting on foot with spears or arrows or clubs any longer. We're using powerful 4 wheeler ATV's and/or snowmachines and high power rifles to bring 'em down! Isn't it obvious that the more hunters we allow to hunt, the more of these prey animals (caribou/moose) are going to be harvested? So why then should the preditor animals have to be the ones to be thinned out (blatently killed) so as to allow more prey animals to survive for we human hunters? Why is it that the preditor animals have to be sacrificed when they're just doing what nature made them to do? Nature will controll thier numbers as well as the prey animal numbers if simply left alone, letting mother nature do her thing. Seems to me that the obvious thing that needs to be done is to limit the numbers of human hunters from flying around out there banging moose and caribou left and right. And with this program they're literally flying around killing the preditors. All just because the precious man-hunters have thier 'sport'!? Their so badly needed meat that they are so much relying upon getting to survive? I, of course, say that in the most ficicous way... it's not like 95% of these hunters really NEED to get this meat to survive thier hardships in live. Most hunters are pretty comfortable in their lifestyles and their eating habits! Get real people!!!!!!! We are not Gods over nature. Do we always have to do things to suit ourselves... and to heck with everything else? Are we that so self-centered as human beings? It would seem so!

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