Wolf Hunting Plan Gets National Attention
Ben Deci / KTVA / CBS / Channel 11 / December 28, 2003
show-down between Governor Frank Murkowski and a nationwide
environmental group is intensifying. "Friends of Animals" organized
protests of Alaska's aerial wolf hunting program in 31
cities around America. Those protests started today. Governor
Murkowski has recently praised the aerial wolf kill as
the correct course of action.
31 cities certainly sounds impressive. People in places
like New York, Colorado Springs, and Honolulu are all talking
about Alaska's aerial wolf hunting policy. But "Friends of Animals" isn't
stopping there. They are using those protests as the kick-off
to a boycott of Alaska's tourism industry- a boycott they
vow to pursue until the wolf kill plan is canceled.
Jack Barber makes his living giving people rides out into the Alaska bush. He
says his customers range from hunters who stand to benefit from the wolf kill
to wild-life sight seers who want to see wolves during their trips. But now Barber
is worried those folks won't want to come to Alaska because of the boycott.
"It's very damaging, and I think it's uncalled for. I don't think they have a
true picture of what is at hand here," Barber said.
Turn-out at the "Friends of Animals" rallies was anemic at best. The rally in
Lansing, Michigan for instance, only brought-out three protestors and an equally
small audience. Still, "Friends of Animals" is saying they expect to do some
damage to the State's economy if the State does damage to it's wolf population.
"You can't justify it by science," said Friends of Animals President Priscilla
Feral of the wolf kill. "We're also saying you can't justify it legally. We're
also saying, Friends of Animals as a pressure group with members inside and outside
of Alaska... that the ethics aren't there. We think it's an ethical outrage."
As far as Jack Barber is concerned, Alaska's wolf population is Alaska's business,
and people from the lower 48 shouldn't be meddling, especially by trying to cut
back on the amount of business he can book.
"You have to believe that the people that are working within the system to manage
our resources are doing the best that they can, and you need to let them do their
job. And that's the bottom line," Barber said.
It was a little over a decade ago that a similar tourism boycott was held to
protest an aerial wolf kill plan sponsored by then Governor Hickel. Tourism constitutes
the state's second largest industry, and that protest of a decade ago ended up
costing 100 million dollars to the state's economy.
The question now is how many people will Friends of Animals be able to mobilize
this time around, and how many dollars those people will spend elsewhere.
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