*Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Fairbanks, Alaska*
Monday, February 21, 2005 – The Daily News-Miner’s Feb. 3 editorial, “Oh, please, Priscilla” argues that Friends of Animals’ protests against wolf control are futile and, “It’s taken a couple of months to get just 5,000 signatures on pledges to support a tourism boycott of Alaska.” Wrong.
In a leap of logic, the editorial surmised, “Friends of Animals has faired so poorly in trying to rally the public to its cause it has turned to the courts instead.” Wrong again. Methinks the News-Miner has an attitudinal ax to grind that overrides facts.
A Feb. 10, 2005, telecast from Anchorage-based KTUU accurately reported, “The governor’s office says it has received hundreds of thousands of mostly negative comments” on the aerial wolf control program. KTUU’s reporter (who once hailed from Fairbanks) interviewed a University of Alaska wildlife conservation scientist, Rick Steiner, who explained, “There would have been more tourists coming here had the boycott not been in place, likely.” Professor Steiner added that other boycotts of Alaska products are being considered.
As a New York Times editorial noted a year ago, and to which FoA agrees ( Wolf ‘Control’ in Alaska; Sun., March 14, 2004), “There’s nothing sporting about deploying an air force to hunt animals.”
Since December 2003, when the state of Alaska started allowing hunter-pilot teams to shoot wolves, more than 200 “Howl-Ins” have been organized across North America and in Germany, Japan and Great Britain. At these events, members of the public can join in the activism and sign individual postcards to Alaska’s governor.
On Nov. 4, 2003, The Alaska Board of Game and Department of Fish and Game moved to reinstitute aircraft-assisted killing as a method of suppressing wolf populations at artificially low numbers to appease moose hunters, and affluent hunter-pilots who have won Gov. Murkowski’s ear. Less than three weeks later, and before a tourism boycott was announced, Friends of Animals and seven Alaska plaintiffs sued the state of Alaska to halt wolf control on the grounds that it’s illegal. Our case is scheduled for trial in May.
On Feb. 1, 2005, FoA introduced the first Virtual Howl-In that enables wolf supporters to enter their names and addresses into an online form on the FoA Web site. FoA will then mail a physical postcard to Alaska’s governor on behalf of each signatory.
Friends of Animals believes the world community should have something to say about the treatment of wolves and the type of governance that shames not only Alaska but our country as a whole. Free-living wolves don’t belong to a certain state, hunter, or tight-knit group of politicians who contrive and inflate numbers–setting population and hunting goals as high as they please–so that statutory limits on wolf control, to make moose hunting easier, are meaningless.
The systematic violence that passes as wolf control is not an abstraction, out of sight or mind. The shooting deaths shatter and destroy real families, many of which are exploited by radio collars, and, as a result, made vulnerable to people whose aerial killings The New York Times editorial decried as “the savagery of humans.”
Priscilla Feral is president Friends of Animals, based in Darien, Conn.