Maybe Friends of Animals' Feral
Would Like to Take Wolves Home

Craig Medred / Outdoors / Anchorage Daily News / December 14, 2003


Why is it people in Alaska seem to be getting so upset about Friends of Animals going ape over plans for killing wolves in the McGrath area?

The shocking thing would be if the Connecticut-based animal-rights organization wasn't making a fuss. From the standpoint of Friends, any sort of wolf control in Alaska is an irresistible target, and not just because it involves killing wolves.

Consider for a moment the goal of the McGrath wolf kill. The goal is to allow more moose to survive the fangs of predators over the winter. This could, in turn, mean a few more moose for McGrath hunters to kill and eat next fall.

But for humans -- as opposed to wolves -- to kill and eat moose is wrong, according to Friends.

"Friends of Animals is against the use of animals for human consumption,'' the organization openly proclaims on its Web site.

"Hunting,'' the Web site adds, "is cruel. It is deceitful. It is socially unjustifiable. It is ecologically disruptive. Friends of Animals opposes hunting in all its forms.''

Or at least the organization opposes "human'' hunting in all its forms.

If Friends really opposed hunting in all its forms, it would be lobbying the state to exterminate all the wolves to keep them from hunting. But friends is, of course, opposed to killing even one wolf. While the organization doesn't think humans should eat any meat at all, it is apparently fine if wolves kill and eat every critter they can.

Reading the Friends Web site, however, it is hard to tell if this is because the organization likes wolves or if it is simply because the organization is as opposed to people killing wolves as it is opposed to people killing moose or cattle or chickens or fish.

Friends detests all killing of animals by humans. It believes our species should limit its diet to fruits, nuts, tubers, grains and vegetables.

"Millions of Americans are vegetarian or vegan,'' Friends proclaims. "This major shift toward a vegetarian diet is because people have discovered the cruelties inherent in meat production and the link between meat consumption and many forms of human disease.''

Or so the organization claims. As with many of these fringe interest groups, facts often come second to agenda. And Friends is very much out there on the fringe.

"There is no such thing as 'humane' meat-based agriculture,'' Friends says. "Whether animals are factory farmed or raised 'free-ranged' for slaughter, the life of the farm animal is hell from the moment of birth to the moment of slaughter.''

Hell, do you hear them? Hell!

Apparently, even if a heifer is turned out to frolic in a pasture for its entire life only to be struck down by a bolt of lightning that kills it instantly, as painless a death as is possible, its life will have been, well, hell.

The Friends Web site even leaves one wondering if it's OK to eat road kill. Anchorage charities regularly make use of road kill. This is considered the best use of the several hundred moose hit by cars in the Anchorage area every winter because, heaven knows, we wouldn't want hunters cropping the local moose population.

Friends, however, wouldn't seem to draw much of a distinction between hunters shooting the moose and charities eating their carcasses after the animals are killed in auto collisions -- "it being,'' in the words of the Friends Web site, "morally wrong to eat meat.''

Given this, it shouldn't come as any surprise at all that in the effort to stop a wolf-kill designed to grow more moose for McGrath residents to eat, Friends would go to court, send its voodoo scientist out to lobby and threaten an Alaska tourism boycott.

The only surprise is that anyone in Alaska would take any of this seriously.

Friends of Animals, with its 200,000 members, barely qualifies as chump change on the national political stage. If you actually believe its membership claim -- and there's really no reason to believe this claim is any more valid than some of its other claims -- Friends has half the membership of the Young American Bowling Alliance, a children's group.
Friends is nothing but a little voice squeaking in a big, noisy crowd of environmental groups calling for boycotts. Let's see who or what is on the boycott list at the moment:

* Adidas, for using kangaroo leather in some of its shoes.

* Air France, Continental, Delta and a bunch of other airlines, for flying monkeys.

* Kentucky Fried Chicken, for cruelty to chickens.

* American Home Products, maker of Chapstick and a bunch of other goods, for testing products on horses.

* Budweiser, for holding killer whales captive at the SeaWorld marine park.

* Colgate-Palmolive, for animal testing.

* Gap, which includes Old Navy and Banana Republic, for supporting clear-cutting of old-growth forest in Mendocino County, Calif.

And this is only part of a list that goes on and on and on. I won't even get into the boycotts being staged ("attempted" would be a better word) for social or political reasons. There are dozens of those too.

Some of them actually make sense. The world is full of people being politically oppressed. There are millions of workers around the globe being economically abused. There are even populations of endangered animals truly threatened with extinction in Africa and Asia.

And Friends of Animals is really going to get people worked up about a handful of wolves in a state where there are thousands -- in a state where wolves don't even face a threat of becoming threatened?

The threat of a boycott in these circumstances is enough to make one laugh.

Which is exactly how the state ought to respond to threats from Friends. Give them a shrug and a laugh and suggest to Friends mouthpiece Priscilla Feral that she go back to harassing the Greenwich Audubon Society for its decision to allow archers to kill some of the whitetail deer devouring the vegetation in that organizations' Connecticut wildlife sanctuary.

Or better yet, maybe Alaska could offer Feral a few wolves to take home to Connecticut to solve that deer problem. Alaska wolves would certainly be happier feasting on easy-to-kill East Coast deer than dangerous-to-attack, hard-to-kill Alaska moose, and someone who likes wolves as much as Feral must certainly want some in her own back yard.

Daily News Outdoor editor Craig Medred can be reached at .

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