Alaska Board of Game Chair Mike Fleagle's complaints
about a newspaper advertisement by Defenders of Wildlife on
aerial wolf killing simply don't hold water.
of Wildlife is a highly credible, science-based national wildlife
conservation organization with an office in Anchorage. We
pride ourselves on working closely with federal and state
agencies on important wildlife issues. When appropriate, we
also mobilize the public to respond to scientifically unsound
and unethical wildlife management practices.
important to refute Fleagle's charges specifically Ð with
real facts Ð but it's just as important to note the one
fact he didn't challenge. Alaskans have voted, twice, to put
a stop to aerial-assisted wolf gunning Ð something that
the Legislature, the governor and the Board of Game have all
claims our ad is part of a national campaign to raise money.
But nowhere in the Alaska ad do we ask for money. Instead,
the ad is an example of the ways in which we spend money which
our members give us to work on issues like this one. The ad
gives Alaskans an opportunity to express directly to Gov.
Murkowski their opposition to the current wolf-killing program.
also alleges that Defenders provided misinformation on the
use of helicopters for Alaska's aerial wolf-killing programs.
But at their November 2003 meeting, the Board amended regulation
5AAC 92.039, removing "fix-winged" from the definition
of aircraft specifically to allow for the use of helicopters.
says we imply moose calf hunting is occurring si-multaneously
in areas where predator control is being implemented. That's
simply not true Ð read the ad. What Fleagle won't tell
you is that the area where moose calf hunting is happening
is the very same area where wolf-control programs have been
in place for at least five years, which may explain why moose
are now overpopulated there and damaging habitat. Ask any
biologist; shooting calves to knock back overpopulated prey
is the logical result of an unscientific program to wipe out
goes on to say that the Board made a technical correction
to a regulation at its recent meeting to provide greater protection
for moose calves.
the language approved by the Board lifts the statewide prohibition
on moose calf hunting under regulation 5AAC 92.265. Defenders
and others fail to see how removing this prohibition would
provide "greater protection for moose calves."
contrary to Fleagle's assertion, we never said that hunters
in Alaska are allowed to harvest female bears accompanied
by cubs. We stuck to the facts: The Board of Game approved
the killing of bear sows and cubs when they adopted their
Bear Conservation and Management Policy by changing the definition
of a "legal" bear. The policy also lists the trapping
of bears, the use of aircraft to kill bears, the baiting of
bears, and the selling of bear parts as additional tools the
Board can use to reduce bear populations to increase moose
and caribou for hunters.
facts aren't on the Board's side when it comes to the wolf-killing
program's scope and duration, either. The program in Unit
19D-east (the McGrath area where Fleagle resides) has an objective
of eliminating all wolves in the area, not reducing them.
The Board of Game has greatly expanded the aerial and land-and-shoot
wolf-killing programs to include more than 30,000 square miles
of Alaska, where up to 500 wolves will be killed. These programs
are not "temporary," as claimed, and are expected
to last for at least the next four to five years.
wolf control plans largely ignore important findings from
a comprehensive National Academy of Sciences study commissioned
by the state of Alaska. Many top scientists from around the
nation, including in Alaska, made specific biological recommendations
with respect to implementing predator control in the state.
Board of Game has ignored this study and even ignored the
Alaska Department of Fish and Game, which opposed some of
these programs based upon lack of data or funding. Instead
of science, the Board's current programs are based mostly
on the long-discredited notion that wiping out all the predators
paves the way to easy hunting for humans, with moose as plentiful
as feedlot cattle.
Deatherage is Alaska Program Associate for Defenders of Wildlife