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Time Again to Stop Aerial Wolf Hunting

Editorial / Juneau Empire / August 26, 2005

Opponents of Alaska's practice of aerial wolf hunting are back with a petition attempting to end the endlessly controversial program. It's getting old, yes, but it's also what Alaskans twice have said they want. Let's hope this is the last time it's necessary.

Two Juneau residents - former Game Board member Joel Bennett and author Nick Jans - joined a former big game hunting guide this week in submitting to the state a petition for another vote on wolf control. Once the necessary signatures are gathered, Alaskans should get another chance to say what they said in 1996 and 2000: Stop it.

As usual, supporters of the practice will accuse opponents of listening to national interests who want to circumvent professional science with ballot-box biology. It's legitimate to fear that public management can go too far, but Alaskans have heard all this before and know what they're doing. Wolf control, ostensibly for the benefit of subsistence hunters, is political to begin with. Regulation of predators - natural or by the rifle - flip-flops according to the political whims of those in charge. What so far has not been shown to have changed is that Alaskans favor neither the unsporting and biologically questionable technique of putting caribou and moose meat on the table nor the reputation that it has given the state.

Twice the voters of Alaska have said they don't want aerial wolf hunting on a routine basis, and twice the Legislature has gone over their heads to allow it. If the voters state their case again, it's time for lawmakers to get out of the way and let this controversy die.

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