Aerial Wolf Hunt: What it Looks Like

Cat Stephenson / Alaska / December 17, 2003

In an article for the Alaska Sportsman, aerial wolf hunter Neva Whaley described the pathetic scene below as follows:  "She had nine pups ready to whelp but the wolf shown in the photo got no sympathy from Frank Whaley, who has landed to finish her off after Grant Jackson and Sydney Road shot her.  If wolves killed only for their needs they would not be so great a menace, but one wolf may kill as many as 20 reindeer in a night. (Imagine, then, the toll 10 bloodthirsty wolves could take.)"

So-called "surplus killing" of prey by wolves--when wolves kill more than they are seen eating--is an argument used often by hunters who favor shooting wolves because wolves compete with them for moose, deer, and caribou.  (Let's ignore for a moment the countless tales of humans who have over-hunted buffalo, nearly sent egrets into extinction for their feathers, and tossed dynamite into fishing lakes, et cetera ad nauseum.) 

Robert H. Busch, in "The Wolf Almanac," notes that most prey chased by wolves get away.  He and L. David Mech conclude that excessive hunting may occur when wolves are denning thus ensuring a food supply for new pups.  It has also been documented that over-hunting by wolves (and also by bears, and weasels) occurs when the kills are easy--on calving grounds, grazing lands, or deep snows.  Presumably the reindeer in Nome that Whaley wrote about were either penned in preparation for commercial use or herded together to graze, as I have seen them.  The apparition of many killed prey is deceiving to the human eye; biologist Vic Van Ballenberghe, in a report for Wolf Song of Alaska, wrote: "Studies have shown that wolves generally consume the animals they kill, often returning to kills over a prolonged period."

Historically, men have fared better in the presence of wolves, then wolves in the presence of men.  Add airplanes to the equation and you have the "surplus killing" of wolves who will be run down and gunned down with the blessing of Alaska Governor Frank Murkowski.

Caption:  "Nome sportsmen hunt wolves by plane as a public service as well a recreation..."

Don't let misinformation empower Alaska's aerial wolf-control program.  Whether you reside in Alaska or not, please write, call, and email our governor.  Request your family and friends to do the same--and honor a boycott of Alaska tourism.

Frank H. Murkowski, Governor
PO Box 110001
Juneau AK 99811
(907) 465-3500

I am happy to answer questions about this article, or you can order it from your library {via the Interlibrary Loan service).  Request "Beware The Wolf," by Neva Whaley, which was published by The Alaska Sportsman in August 1957

Thanks for your support to protect Alaska's wolves,

Cat Stephenson

They're your wolves, too.

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