Activists Misrepresent Wolf Control to Tourists

Editorial / Kenai Peninsula Clarion / December 23, 2003

''Wolves'' dressed like activists are knocking on Alaska's tourism door.

In Ketchikan another type of wolf is killing dogs.

In McGrath they are killing moose.

They kill whatever necessary for food. Wolves are wild animals. They are cute and cuddly looking. But there's nothing pleasant about them when they are ripping the hide of a dog or a moose, or whatever food is available. Wolves are killers; that's their way of life. They kill to eat.

Animal rights activists fail to portray that. They take a wolf-dog hybrid and parade it around the country, asking all who will listen whether they want the animal and others like it killed in Alaska. Of course, the people say ''no.'' Who wouldn't? Here's a lone, furry, pet-looking creature that appears scared among throngs of people trying to get a glimpse of it. No one would want to harm a frightened ''puppy dog.''

But put a pack of hungry wolves in a situation like that, and those activists wouldn't be able to get away fast enough.

Animal activists are threatening Alaska again. Specifically, they promise to discourage travelers from throughout the nation from visiting Alaska next tourist season if the state proceeds with a wolf control plan. The plan calls for killing about 40 wolves. The plan is aimed at controlling a wolf population that depletes the food supply in the remote reaches of Interior Alaska. The Natives living there are 300 miles away from the closest supermarket and have no road access to their community. They depend on moose in order to eat.

Despite the activists' portrayal of the state of Alaska as the bad guy, state officials began the program last spring by first relocating about 83 bears. The result was an increase in the moose population. Destroying some wolves, certainly not close to all, is the next step. Wolves multiply like puppies, (or is it rabbits?) and aren't an endangered species.

In Ketchikan at this time the only threatened species is neighborhood dogs. Wolves killed at least two dogs and seriously injured three others in the past week. These dogs were in the vicinity of their residential yards and driveways. Last spring wolves killed four Ketchikan dogs.

Animal activists tell only the part of the story that will serve their cause. And a cause it is. It gives them the publicity they seek; it encourages donors to dig deeper in their pockets to save ''the puppy.'' In a short time, their coffers are overflowing again.

Other activists take the same approach , telling a story regardless of whether it's the whole story. In a recent article about the Tongass National Forest, extreme environmentalists screamed about supposed fraud in regard to timber. The story despaired of ''huge rafts of logs worth millions of dollars routinely (disappearing) while they were being floated down Alaskan rivers in the early 1990s. ...''

The timber industry doesn't float logs down Alaska rivers; just ask anyone who has ever lived in Alaska. But it sounds good for the faraway population unfamiliar with Alaska and its timber industry. That's the population that opposes harvest but fails to acknowledge trees had to be chopped down in order to supply wood for their homes.

There's an activist for everything. But where are the activists for the moose? Shouldn't they be protesting the moose dying violently at the jaws of wolves? Apparently, moose just aren't cute enough to pull on the heart strings of animal activists. Their long snouts aren't worth millions of dollars in donations.

Activists appear to specialize in tall tales. Sometimes it's inaccurate statements about the timber industry. Other times it's misrepresenting a state's animal management practices.

Gov. Frank Murkowski shouldn't succumb to such story telling. Let the activists and their sympathizers send postcards pressuring him to cancel the wolf control plan. He can write back, telling the senders the rest of the story, the story of responsible management of Alaska's natural resources, and encourage prospective Alaska tourists to avoid letting misrepresentations of this great state ruin their vacation plans.

Both the governor and the tourists should follow through with their plans, whether for wolf control or a vacation of a lifetime.

The Ketchikan Daily News / December 13, 2003


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