To the editor:
Not long ago Ray Atkins, Alaska hunting guide, took some money from an unnamed Outside hunter and then helped him shoot a wolf. Of course, it was legal.
The wolf was the last experienced adult of the Toklat Pack, a pack first studied by the Muries in 1938 and the only pack in the world to be continuously studied down through the decades. With a sense of wildlife reality apparently as deep as his sense of conservation, Atkins noted how a wolf can produce litters of 12 (an extreme occurrence presented as though commonplace) and have them hunting in six months. Pause a moment to contemplate a pack of 6-month-old pups bringing down a moose.
One bullet from some Outside hunter transformed a singular animal into a lifeless trophy he'll likely have mounted snarling so he can return to the States and prove his daring, his skill, his shooting prowess in killing this last Toklat adult. And I'm sure he'll mention how it was quite legal.
It's truly wonderful that in Alaska our wildlife is up for grabs by the Blast-and-Brag crowd from Outside with a fistful of dollars and the urge to destroy something unique. When it happens, folks such as Atkins and Cathie Harms will be ready to show how meaningless the animal truly was, how the loss isn't really a loss but a conservation success, that we have plenty of wolves and, "Hey, folks, if you've got the bucks, there's no critter in Alaska we won't be willing to sell you to shoot, even the McNeil River bears by 2007, courtesy of our Game Board."
When Ralph Seekins passed legislation to allow aerial hunting despite voter disapproval of same, he showed how something can be legal and still be wrong. Atkins, in destroying something uniquely Alaskan for a few quick bucks, again demonstrates this contradiction. If any of the sub-adults that are all that remain of the pack somehow survive through this year, I'm sure some guide or trapper will go after them with snare or bullet.
But don't worry, folks ... it's legal.
Art Greenwalt / Fairbanks