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Alaska's Aerial Wolf Control Program Does Not Meet the Most Basic Three Requirements

Comments submitted to President Bush as part of a petition urging him to curtail the aerial killing of wolves under the Federal Airborne Hunting Act

Paul Joslin / Wildlife Biologist / December 2, 2004

  The aerial wolf control program does not meet the most basic three requirements.

(a) The need for wolf control should be based on sound science. The program is being promoted by anti-predator extremists. As a wolf biologist this concerns me a great deal. Many of the areas where the control is taking place are highly isolated. The end result is likely to be a temporary overabundance of moose which will over-utilize the habitat, and cause a subsequent decline in the moose population. The perpetrators of the program see wolves as vermin rather than as playing an important role in the ecosystem.

(b) The program does not have a broad base of public support. Indeed, the majority of Alaskan voters twice supported a ban on the use of aerial wolf control at the ballot box. It is a technique which many find to be unethical, and repugnant. It constitutes "unfair chase" which moderate hunters regard as inappropriate. It also lends itself to abuse, which enforcement agencies are able to do little about monitoring or reducing because of their lean budgets.

(c) The program is financially irresponsible. The National Academy of Science during its ground breaking two year assessment of predator control in Alaska a few years ago was very critical of the tendency of the government to manage on the basis of anti-predator attitude rather than spending the monies necessary to properly assess whether or not such programs were doing any real good from a biological perspective. What is going on today is much worse. Under the current administration the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has had its budget severely slashed while at the same time is being asked to oversee the largest wolf control program that the state has seen in many decades.

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