How to Hold a Howl-In

Friends of Animals / December 12, 2003


On November 4, 2003, the Alaska Board of Game and Department of Fish and Game voted to reinstitute aircraft-assisted killing as a method of suppressing wolf populations at artificially low levels for the convenience of moose hunters. The hunters force the wolves to run for their lives, and the wolves never win.

There have not been any such state-sponsored aerial control programs in Alaska since the late 1980s, and Alaskans voted by wide margins in 1996 and 2000 to end aerial-assisted wolf hunting and trapping.

This campaign supports an economic tourism boycott of Alaska -- to help change public policy, and to put economic pressure on the people responsible for establishing it: Governor Murkowski's administration.

Friends of Animals (FoA) initiated a successful tourism boycott a decade ago that resulted in then-Governor Walter J. Hickel imposing a moratorium on wolf control in 1992. During that boycott, Friends of Animals launched 53 demonstrations called "howl-ins" in 51 cities around the country.

Demo for One or One-hundred

A "Howl-In" is a protest against the state-sponsored aerial wolf-shooting program in Alaska. At these events, we distribute postcards for the public to sign and deposit into a mailbox (or mailbag) as "Special Delivery for: Governor Frank Murkowski, Alaska." The message on the postcard is a pledge to boycott travel to Alaska until the wolf "control" program is cancelled. After the event is over, either mail all the postcards in a box to Gov. Murkowski's office in Juneau, or return them to:

Friends of Animals 777 Post Road Darien, Connecticut 06820

FoA will send a bag of postcards to the governor by UPS.

This demo can be as effective for one person as for 100.You might think of it as collecting signatures for a petition drive. When people inquire, offer them FoA's Wolf Fact Sheet and kindly ask them to sign one of the petition postcards and deposit it into the mailbox/shipping box .
Don't forget to play the howling wolves CD or tape described below. It will draw attention to the cause. Feel free to spice things up a bit. Some ideas include:

* Bringing a friendly dog who will "HOWL" along with the CD, perhaps wearing a small sign reading, "Please don't shoot my cousins." Do this only if your dog, or the dog of someone you know, is used to and enjoys interactions with strangers in the context of your chosen location.
* Adding a New Year's touch. Create a few handmade signs reading, "Begin the New Year by boycotting tourism to Alaska" or "Let Alaskan wolves have a healthy New Year." Ask people to take a New Year's pledge to boycott Alaska.

Selecting a Location

Choose a location that is easy to find, with convenient transportation options. Ensure that you can legally hold the protest at the time and place you want. You may also need to get a permit to hold a protest. A general guide regarding the right of free speech to which we are all entitled appears below. The guide cannot cover every situation or location, and should not be construed as legal advice. Always check with your local Police Department or City Hall.


Friends of Animals will provide you with a Howl-In Package, which includes:
* Posters (must be mounted)
* Educational material
* Petition postcards
* CD or cassette tape of howling wolves (let us know which format to send)
* Sample "letter to editor" * News article on the issue.

You will need to provide:

* Mailbox/cardboard box/mailbag
*Battery operated CD or cassette player
* Table (optional)
* Clipboards (optional)
* Cardboard for poster mounting
* Pens

How to make your own mailbox:

Simply take a square or rectangle cardboard box (paint it if you like) and attach it on top of a longer thinner cardboard box; check for balance and weight inside bottom if necessary. Pull one flap down on the top square/rectangle box to create the opening to the mailbox. Add Governor Frank Murkowski's name to the side of your mailbox. You may even want to add a red mailbox flag. (As an alternate, you may use a pillowcase as a mailbag, again marked for delivery to Alaska. Use a permanent marker if it will get wet so the lettering won't run.)

Friends of Animals will contact local media to interest them in covering your campaign. Know the issues (we have included a representative news article in the packet). You may also encourage news coverage on your own. Additionally, FoA will also notify national press organizations/media about your event. Please make sure we are provided with your spokesperson's name and phone number.

Almost all newspapers run Letters to the Editor and some publish reader's columns on their opinion pages. Many papers also have "Speak Out" phone lines where readers may voice opinions. Investigate your options, and use these media outlets to advance the cause.

A Few Tips

Remember, when you're presenting an animal rights point of view, your appearance and actions must reflect your concern. Cynics are swift to notice and take advantage of inconsistencies.

Dress neatly. Society has many prejudices, and, despite the old adage, people do judge a book by its cover. By adjusting your clothing to the style of your audience, you connect with their lives and experiences. Rather than being distracted by your appearance, people will hear your message.

If you have any questions please contact us at

Good luck, and thank you for caring about the interests of free-living wolves in one of the few places they can still enjoy freedom.

Regarding Free Speech:

The right of free speech in the United States protects expression and communication of all sorts, including picketing, leafleting, marching to City Hall, or gathering signatures.

The right of free expression is not an absolute right to express ourselves at any time, place, or manner. For example, we do not necessarily have a right to drive through a community at midnight with loudhailers. While we may have the right to march on a city street, we may not have the right to decide the exact time or route. The government has the authority to make reasonable restrictions on the time, place, and manner of certain speech activities if there is a compelling reason to do so. On the other hand, the government cannot make regulations merely because it does not like the message of the speaker.

The U.S. Supreme Court has declared that public streets, sidewalks, and parks are "traditional" public fora. Generally speaking, the government can regulate the time, place, and manner of speech in a traditional public forum only to ensure that other peoples' rights to use the streets, sidewalks, and parks, are not disrupted. But the speaker is not responsible for the presence of hecklers or angry listeners.

Generally, people are free to speak as they please on sidewalks. No permit is required even if a large crowd gathers. It is a good idea, however, to encourage those gathered to leave space for passersby.

Orderly sidewalk picketing and handing out leaflets are perfectly permissible. Because they usually do not cause traffic problems, a permit is generally not required. Picketers are not required to keep moving but may remain in one spot as long as they leave room on the sidewalk for others to pass.

Public parks are our most traditional public fora. Currently, state park regulations may require reservations or permits for large demonstrations and rallies or for the use of sound equipment. Apply for a permit from the city, county, or state parks department in advance of your event.

A city may put limits on the volume of sound equipment (measured by decibel level) or limit the use of sound equipment to certain times or certain areas for purposes of traffic safety or community tranquility. The city may require a use permit for sound equipment.

Do not request money; that is strictly regulated by the Secretary of State's office.

Free speech activities may ordinarily take place on the sidewalks, grounds, and other public areas of government buildings. Officials may restrict the times, locations, and manner of free speech activities as long as the restrictions are reasonable and do not unduly hamper the speech activities. In some instances, a use permit may be required.

There are no regulations prohibiting free speech activities at post offices but flyers or handbills cannot be posted on postal property.

Generally speaking, school administrators do not allow non-students to distribute literature, hold rallies, or engage in other expressive activity on school grounds. But picketing or leafleting near school grounds (for example, the public sidewalk in front of the school) is constitutionally protected.

Under federal law, private landowners historically have had the right to prevent anyone from speaking or demonstrating on their property. A person refusing to leave after being asked to do so could be prosecuted for trespassing. Although the U.S. Constituútion may not grant us free speech rights (such as signature-gathering) at shopping malls, some state constitutions do. Other types of activities, however, such as handing out leaflets, picketing, or giving speeches, are not protected. People wishing to gather signatures for an initiative may be required to get permission from mall management.

Demonstrators are encouraged to abide by reasonable rules. They should not harass passers-by or cause unreasonable disruptions.

If you are instructed not to speak, demonstrate, or engage in some other expressive activity -- whether by a law, a police officer, or other government official -- you should know that continuing to engage in the activity may result in criminal charges, even if the charges are dismissed later.

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