Wolf Kill's Real Agenda is Enhancing,
Not Restoring, Prey Populations

Letters to the Editor / Anchorage Daily News / December 15, 2003

As a lifetime Alaskan and hunter, and former chairman of the Board of Game, I don't have a problem with killing wolves when it is necessary to correct an imbalance and restore a prey population. However, I do have a problem with turning vast parts of Alaska into a moose ranch. And therein lies the rub, because that part of the agenda of the current airborne wolf-control advocates is downplayed.

Over the years, many of those advocates have convinced themselves that the subarctic and Arctic ecosystems can be thus manipulated to sustain moose populations far above historic levels. The Board of Game's prey population objectives, established for various "intensive management" areas, reveal this bias. Those objectives, in my view, were totally unrealistic when adopted and even reckless. Now, the Legislature and the game board have brazenly written prey population objectives out of the equation altogether. In other words, airborne wolf control is being employed to enhance a population of moose, not restore it. Airborne wolf-control advocates have candidly admitted to me that is precisely the result being sought.

I believe this thinking is wrong and is certainly subject to the law of unintended consequences. For example, it can certainly be argued that the most recent collapse of the Nelchina caribou herd is a consequence of overgrazing stimulated by airborne wolf control. That doesn't sound like sustained yield management to me.

-- Douglas Pope / Anchorage

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