Group Protests Shooting of Wolves


Christopher Witkowsky, Staff Writer / The Reporter  / December 28, 2003


LANSDALE, PA - The Siberian Husky' with cloudy eyes' almost white' strained at its collar and leash Saturday afternoon' trying hard to break free and run.
Its keeper' Pat McDevitt of Lansdale' restrained the dog gently and talked about why he would like people to stop attending Alaskan cruises.

McDevitt is participating in a protest initiated by the Friends of Animals organization to stop a program run by the Alaska Board of Game and Department of Fish and Game that allows the aerial shooting of wolves. The Alaska Board of Game voted in November to allow the shooting of wolves from airplanes' a practice that was banned in the early 1970s.

The friends group has encouraged its local chapters across the country and in Canada to hold "howl-ins" to protest the program.

According to a press release' "howlers" are asked to pledge their support of a tourism boycott of Alaska until the program ends.

"They're going out in airplanes and half the time they shoot them and they're left to die days later'" McDevitt said of hunters shooting wolves. "They're trying to eliminate the wolf population because the wolves go after the moose."

Priscilla Feral' president of Friends of Animals' said in a statement that slaying wolves to help out moose hunters is bad public policy.

"We deplore the killing of wolves to suit the convenience of moose hunters and to provide a thrill for pilots. Modern society should not tolerate this'" Feral said.

According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game' predators kill more than 80 percent of the moose and caribou that die during a year' while humans kill less than 10 percent of those animals annually.

"In most of the state' predation holds prey populations at levels far below what could be supported by a viable habitat'" according to a statement on the department's Web site' www.wildlife.alaska.gov . "Predation is an important part of the ecosystem' and all department wolf-management programs' including control programs' are designed to sustain wolf populations in the future."

The Web site states that this winter' wolf hunting is allowed on about 2 percent of Alaskan land' and in the hunting areas' wolf numbers are expected to be temporarily reduced.

"Wolves will not be permanently eliminated from any area'" the Web site states.

Alaska is home to anywhere from 7'700 to 11'200 wolves' according to the Web site.

McDevitt said it's ironic that the government ran re-population programs in Alaska and Yellowstone National Park to buoy the wolf population' and then goes about killing them.
"They raised them from cubs'" McDevitt said.


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