Wolf Song of Alaska News

California's Dreaming: Political Powerhouse Prepares to Bully Alaska on Capitol Hill

Editorial / Fairbanks Daily News-Miner / October 5, 2007

Unable to work with their neighbors, some Alaskans turned to the people of overpopulated and overdeveloped lands to muster the political bullying power to - once again - push the will of millions who have never set foot here upon those who live here.

Rep. George Miller, D-Calif. introduced his Protect America's Wildlife Act, on Capitol Hill Sept. 25, accompanied by a white wolf on a leash, the president of the national Defenders of Wildlife, and a former Board of Game member and longtime wolf control opponent, Joel Bennett of Alaska. He said he aims to close a loophole in the federal Airborne Hunting Act that has allowed Alaska to issue limited permits to private pilot-gunner teams to do wolf control instead of using its own hired guns.

The show played pretty well in D.C. and for Miller, who hails from Contra Costa County, Calif. - home to almost twice as many people in 1/900th the space as Alaska.

With a population of well over 1 million in its 719 square miles, it's a county that is accustomed to wielding national political power. There is no political downside for a representative from northern California standing up to "protect wildlife" from the law-breaking people who actually live where wolves exist off-leash.

The show surely wouldn't have played well, politically, in a community like McGrath, Alaska, on the heels of yet another not-that-great moose hunting season. But the number of voters in McGrath couldn't populate a single polling precinct around Miller's stomping grounds.

All too willing to tarnish Alaska's reputation for his own gain, the California representative will carry the message of the national Defenders of Wildlife, painting a vision of a slaughter by pilots who simply run down wolves and shoot them "point-blank."

They continue to ignore the fact that many more wolves are taken by hunters and trappers each year using traditional methods. The control program has netted a kill of only about 700 wolves over the course of four years. The state even offered a bounty last year in hopes of increasing the wolf control kill.

The annual traditional statewide wolf harvest is usually on the order of 1,000. This is a fact that should worry traditional hunters and trappers. If California is ready to target a program that manages to kill less than 200 wolves per year, what's next on California's chopping block?

The message to Congress should be that the states have authority to manage wildlife populations for a reason. The state has a political system that works. It has a court system that works. Just because a few people have not been successful yet in those arenas, it's not up to Congress to step in and allow California to tell Alaskans how to live.

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