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Helicopters Culling Wolves a Bad Idea

Letters / Juneau Empire / March 16, 2007

The March 11 Juneau Empire article titled "Helicopter pilots part of wolf control plan," with the sub-heading "Game Board wants more cost-effective culling methods" made me take a deep breath of disbelief.

It is unfathomable to think that the impetus for helicopter culling of wolves is directly linked to saving a buck. The Board of Game is charged with managing wildlife for sustainability and for the best interest of all Alaskans. The "more cost-effective" method absolutely should not determine how wildlife is managed in Alaska.

Paradigms for wildlife management should emanate from the most current scientific research, focused on specific areas, while including a long-term management perspective. The board's "cost-effective" mantra will dearly cost Alaska's wildlife and all Alaskans in the long run. Dollars saved by culling wolves by helicopter - the Alaska Department of Fish and Game wants 382 killed this winter - will be dollars lost when natural predator/prey dynamics become so damaged and disrupted that the result will end in Alaska wildlife bankruptcy.

There are significant numbers of Alaskans, including hunters, that don't believe there ever was scientific justification for the Board of Game to have declared biological emergencies due to decreasing moose populations within five regions of the state in 2003. A biological emergency has to be declared by the board to institute extreme predator control methods such as aerial wolf killing.

Evidence of this disbelief will be seen again on the 2008 ballot as the banning of aerial wolf killing will be brought before voting Alaskans as an initiative.

I'll bet my dollars on current, sound, focused science to manage Alaska's precious wildlife. Helicopters culling wolves to save the state money is a savings that is bound to perpetrate irrevocable harm to Alaska's wolves and moose.

Jenny Pursell / Juneau

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