Warren Williamson / KTUU / Channel 2 / NBC / December 23, 2004
Anchorage, Alaska - As animal activists gather around the country to protest Alaska's aerial wolf hunting program, Anchorage held one of its own today.
But if numbers are any indication of its success, then there's little support for banning the two-year-old program.
While animal activists in the Lower 48 try to spread the word about Alaska's program to regulate and down-size the wolf population, protesters here struggle to even make some noise.
Last December in Denver CO, dozens took part in a howl-in demonstration against Alaska's controlled aerial wolf hunt. Thursday, at a scheduled howl-in in downtown Anchorage, Scott Moran walked the streets by himself, talking to anyone who would listen.
Moran is lobbying the issue of what he says is the brutal and inhumane killing of Alaska's wolves by aerial permit.
"We're really hoping that, combined with the strong public support from people like yourself, our organizations' efforts to make this issue known, that the governor is going to realize this isn't a supported program and that he stops it soon," Moran told one passer-by.
Moran, an Alaska resident, belongs to the national organization of Friends of Animals based in Darien, Conn. Friends of Animals is using television ads to deliver its message.
Some say the message is a scare tactic.
"They purported radio traffic between pilots talking about Cross Wind Lake," said Bruce Bartley, public information officer for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. "Cross Wind Lake is not an open area for any of these wolf-control programs. So I think it's theater, and I'll leave it at that."
But today Moran tried to convince people otherwise. "This is a real savage practice," he said. "It's not something Alaskans want, America or even the world wants."
However, that's a topic up for discussion. Friends of Animals activists gather regularly in the Lower 48 to protest Alaska's regulated killing of wolves. But in Alaska, the issue barely receives a nod.
Alaskans we talked to say they understand the regulated hunts. The Department of Fish and Game says it's necessary. "Nobody's trying to eliminate them, but trying to get numbers down in certain places to let the moose come back," Bartley said.
Meanwhile, Moran walks and walks and walks some more to reach those who'll listen. But, here in Alaska, is it a wasted effort?
"Not at all. Not at all," he said. "The governor needs to understand that his people have spoken in two voter referendums from a postcard in a box. Alaskans and the world are not tolerating this activity. We've said no, we don't want it."
Moran says he'll take the signatures he gathered today and hand-deliver them to Gov. Frank Murkowski when the legislative session begins next month. As for numbers of signatures gathered Thursday afternoon, Moran said he wasn't counting, but that many people had stopped and signed their names.
Friends of Animals have had more than 50 of these protests, in places such as California, Nevada, Colorado, Oregon, Ohio and even Florida. They say more than 60,000 postcards have been sent to Gov. Murkowski, saying people will boycott travel to Alaska unless the administration changes the policy.
But that, according to the governor and the Department of Fish and Game, is not going to happen. And if today's local protest is any indication of local support, then it seems the program will remain in effect.
(Back to Current Events 0105)
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