Limited Measures Won't Threaten Viability of Alaska Wolves

Anchorage Daily News / Letters to the Editor / May 3, 2003


Besides 2,600 Minnesota wolves, Victoria Faeo's column overlooked the rapidly expanding wolf population in the Rocky Mountains. ("Wolf control will lead to extinction," April 12) Recent trips south convinced me that extensive wolf monitoring and news coverage have given the average resident of Montana or Wyoming a far more complete understanding of wolves compared with the average Alaskan. Young wolves seem to quickly gain survival skills without the bank of "accumulated learned behavior" that Ms. Faeo asserts is necessary for wolf survival. Rocky Mountain states are developing balanced plans aimed at ensuring that wolves eat primarily wildlife instead of livestock, while providing for control measures when needed to maintain productive game populations.

Given their high reproductive rate and large appetite, wolves are commonly limited by the sustainability of their prey. Ms. Faeo's concern that reducing wolves will lead to a "disastrous toll" by parasites and disease overlooks the fact that denser, nutritionally- and socially-stressed populations are actually more vulnerable to disease.

I know little about the particular merits of the current predator control proposals. However, Alaska's wolves were not exterminated in the 1950s and certainly wouldn't be under far more limited measures. As wolves continue to acquaint Lower 48 residents with their resilience, appetite and need for control (in some cases), fear of extinction and other misguided perceptions about wolf management in Alaska will change.

-- Leon Shaul / Douglas, AK

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