Close Book on Game Board Horror Stories
Karen Deatherage / Compass / Anchorage Daily News / February
The latest proposal book for the upcoming Alaska Board of Game meeting reads
like a Stephen King horror novel. Instead of Carrie, Cujo and Christine, however,
we have extremist hunters and trappers attempting to take Alaska's wildlife
management as far back into the dark ages as it can possibly go.
Despite the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's claim that killing wolves with
aircraft would only occur on less than 1 percent of state land, there will be
additional land-and-shoot wolf killing programs reviewed, and likely approved,
at the Game Board meeting scheduled for Feb. 26-March 10 in Fairbanks. Aerial
killing programs approved last fall have recently grown from just 40 wolves in
McGrath to 140 wolves in the Nelchina Basin. In March, the Game Board will consider
several programs for other game management units covering thousands of square
miles in Interior Alaska. Hundreds of wolves could be slaughtered under these
The killing of wolves with aircraft as a routine management tool is exactly what
prompted Alaska voters to ban public aerial and land-and-shoot wolf killing in
1996 and reaffirm this ban again in 2000. Overriding these votes, Gov. Frank
Murkowski signed a law last summer that would allow hunters to once again use
this method for killing wolves.
There are proposals to extend wolf hunting and trapping seasons to year-round,
which means month-old pups would be killed. Hunters also want to see the use
of snowmachines to chase down and kill wolves expanded statewide. Perhaps the
most mean-spirited proposals are from the Alaska Trappers Association which wants
to eliminate the buffer zone that currently protects Alaska's most viewable wolf
packs in Denali National Park. It is difficult to believe that trappers who have
access to hunt and trap on 99 percent of state land would want to take away the
opportunity for tens of thousands of people to see wolves in the wild. The measures
currently in place protect just 18 wolves out of the state's estimated population
The majority of Game Board proposals, however, focus on increasing brown and
black bear harvests. Hunters want both brown and black bear populations reduced
to help boost moose and caribou numbers. While bear baiting is currently restricted
to black bears, some proposals call for legalizing it for brown bears. There
are three proposals asking to legalize the killing of bear cubs and a few seeking
to allow snowmachine bear hunting. And several proposals are requesting that
the sale of black and brown bear parts be legalized.
Perhaps the most disturbing proposal is one that would add bears to the state's
predator control law, giving the Game Board authority to approve lethal bear
control throughout Alaska for the purpose of inflating moose populations for
With more than 160,000 moose in Alaska -- double that found in the entire rest
of the United States -- Alaskans have little to fear of losing moose populations
to wolves or bears. There is not one area where moose are endangered or threatened.
Both wolves and bears have co-existed with moose and caribou for millennia. They
didn't wipe them out in the past, and they won't do it today. In fact, scientists
around the world continue to affirm that wolves, bears and other predators promote
healthy ecosystems where animals like moose and caribou can thrive.
It is time the public stepped in and let the Game Board know that these proposals
are unacceptable wildlife management and are strongly opposed. Comments on proposals
can be mailed or faxed to ADF&G Boards Support Section, P.O. Box 25526, Juneau
99802, Fax: 907-465-6094. To view the entire proposal book, visit www.boards.adfg.state.ak.us
And in keeping with any good horror story, comments are due on Friday the 13th.
Karen Deatherage is Alaska Program Associate for Defenders of Wildlife in
to Current Events 0204]
Song of Alaska, P.O. Box 671670, Chugiak, Alaska 99567-1670
Wolf Song of Alaska.
The Wolf Song of Alaska
Logo, and Web Site Text is copyrighted, registered,
protected, and cannot be used without permission.
Web design and artwork donated by She-Wolf Works and Alaskan artist Maria Talasz
All rights reserved