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Alaska Department of Fish and Game History Lessons

Letters / Juneau Empire / December 3, 2006

This is concerning comments regarding recent wolf rulings by the Department of Fish and Game.

Back in the 1960s, the Department of Fish and Game set out to prove that wolves would co-exist with deer and not eliminate their prime food source. Wolves were then introduced to the Coronation Islands, which had a healthy deer population. The experiment was a flop. Within about a decade, the deer were exterminated, and the wolves starved out.

This was again repeated in the early 1970s, when wolves nearly exterminated the deer in the lower Panhandle during two consecutive hard winters. All deer seasons were closed in the lower Panhandle for 12 years in the Petersburg district.

Yet deer seasons remained open in the wolf-free northern Panhandle, which has more severe winters. Regardless, the Department of Fish and Game blamed it on winter kill. To add insult to injury, they rescinded wolf bounties, reclassified them as big game and established a wolf hunting season. High wolf numbers and deer don't mix during hard winters. It's a recipe for disaster.

A ratio of wolves to deer (and moose too) should be established, and excess wolves should be culled by hunting, trapping or bounty incentives.

Dave Werner / Haines

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