Calling Wildlife 'Livestock' Doesn't Mean it Should be Domesticated

Letters to the Editor / Anchorage Daily News / January 2, 2004

In "Who's the enemy -- wolves or us?" (Dec. 24), Bill Sherwonit criticized John Manly, spokesman for Gov. Murkowski, for saying: "In Alaska, moose and caribou are our livestock. ... We are just trying to protect our livestock like any other state." Mr. Sherwonit said this is a "foolish utterance" and that "to link wildlife with domestic animals as Manly does is both arrogant and ridiculous."

It is clear to me that Mr. Manly was making an analogy by calling wildlife "livestock" and meant that some Alaskans rely on wild game as people elsewhere rely on livestock. No reasonable person would believe that Mr. Manly's statement endorses the domestication of moose or caribou. He was simply endorsing wildlife management, in this case predator control.

Mr. Sherwonit misrepresented the intended meaning by inferring that Mr. Manly used the term "livestock" literally. Aldo Leopold, perhaps the most respected American conservationist, also used agricultural analogies for wildlife: "This is game management -- the art of producing crops of wild animals for recreational use," and "The experience of managing land for wildlife crops has the same value as any other form of farming; it is a reminder of the man-earth relation."

Leopold was not necessarily in favor of predator control, but he realized that managed wildlife populations can be likened to farmed crops.

I suggest that Mr. Sherwonit apologize to Mr. Manly for misrepresenting his statements.

-- Matthew A. Cronin / Anchorage

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