Friends of Wolves
Alaska is likely to start shot-gunning wolves from helicopters around McGrath, a village 100 miles west of Denali National Park in Interior Alaska -- Unless the newly elected Gov. Frank Murkowski decides, however unlikely, to renege on his campaign pledge to cater to Alaska's hunters and trappers, not its wildlife-watching tourists.
Murkowski and his Alaska Board of Game are bent on dusting off the shelved wolf slaughter policies halted shortly after former Democratic Gov. Tony Knowles took office in 1994. Murkowski said he had no fear of a tourism boycott like that launched by Friends of Animals in the early 1990s.
In December 1992 almost $1 million worth of cancellations within a few weeks threatened the $1 billion tourist trade as howls of protest came from around the world -- and from within Alaska - over wolf massacre strategies designed to increase populations of moose and caribou for the convenience of hunters. On Dec. 22, 1992, Wayne Regelin, deputy director of the Alaska Division of Wildlife Conservation, announced that to avert a tourism boycott called by Friends of Animals and other groups, "wolf control" programs would be canceled in 1993.
Murkowski, an avid hunter, said his directive to the seven-member Board Of Game is "to manage our wildlife for abundance," and "to keep politics out of this area as much as possible." . The governor appears ready to authorize the helicopter-chasing and shooting of the 30 - 40 wolves who live in the McGrath area, and to move or increase the hunting of grizzly and black bears in that region beginning in March and April 2003.
The half-dozen state Fish and Game biologists who are promoting the wolf-killing scheme claim that moose around McGrath have declined to low levels, and that moose hunters (from a population of approximately 423 human residents in McGrath, as of 1999) would have better hunting opportunities if predators were eradicated. Proponents want to kill all the 30 or more wolves from a 520 square mile area around McGrath at an estimated cost of $100,000 to $160,000.
The goal, as reported in the Anchorage Daily News on Feb. 13, 2003, is "to raise the number of adult moose by some 50 to 75."
The predator-killing plan will be decided during a special meeting in Anchorage on March 6, the day before the game board's meeting. Friends Of Animals will attend the meeting to emphasize that there's no moose decline problem, and to support the scientific criticism of the predator control scheme offered by wolf and ungulate scientists whose views and opposition have been marginalized.
Before the McGrath wolf-killing program gathered steam, it was expected that the State of Alaska would wait until next winter to target wolves when snow is on the ground. Yet, The Associated Press reported in the Feb. 5, 2003 Juneau Empire, that "...with Murkowski at the helm, it's not really a matter of whether the state will kill wolves, and perhaps even bears, it's more a matter of when."
Friends of Animals staged more than 51 "Howl Ins" that translated into an effective tourism boycott a decade ago, during the key fall and winter months when nature lovers book summer visits with tourist booking agencies. Putting the economic screws to former Gov. Walter Hickel was the only language he understood. Perhaps the same is true for Gov. Murkowski.
Please oppose Murkowski's wolf and bear "control" schemes. If the Governor approves a helicopter shot-gunning program for Alaska's wolves, please tell him that you'll make tracks elsewhere if FoA calls a tourism boycott of Alaska.
Wolf Song of Alaska, P.O. Box 671670, Chugiak, Alaska 99567-1670