Wolf Song of Alaska News


State-Sponsored Predator Control is the Right Way

Editorial / Fairbanks Daily News-Miner / December 23, 2007


Some people like to make a big deal over wolves, especially just before the Alaska Board of Game holds its annual meeting. Anyone can talk and debate for hours every day - to not much avail.

Common sense tells us good management of any wild game, whether it's furbearers, ducks, fish or whatever, brings good results. No one in their right mind wants to eliminate or destroy any species of wildlife.

We too often read in the news media of how the Department of Fish and Game and the Board of Game are out to eliminate or even do away with the wolf. That's what the federal government tried to do before statehood, using poison and other means. They didn't achieve that goal. The fact is that the Alaska Board of Game has managed the overall harvest of wolves and implemented control of only a certain number of wolves and in only certain areas when there was a danger of eliminating the moose or other wildlife in those given areas.

Harvesting of wolves in a given area of the state by trappers or hunters and state predation control efforts have shown very good results in balancing wildlife of all species: wolves, ungulates and others.

In areas where there is higher than normal production of moose around towns or villages is where you have good wolf trappers and bear hunters - like Huslia or Fairbanks.

Fairbanks can afford to have an even higher than normal cow moose harvest because you has some of the best and most effective wolf trappers living in your little town, and you shoot a lot of bears in the spring. The wolf population used to be held down over the years here in the area around Galena by effective wolf trappers.

I have lived in Alaska for 93 years, and there have always been plenty of wolves, even after the federal bounty harvest during the 1950s.

During that time, private airplane hunters harvested nearly 1,000 wolves in two years without the help of government. But the good wolf trappers are dying off, and it is getting too expensive to trap and snare wolves, with a good wolf trap costing over $100, gasoline costing more than $5 a gallon and pelt prices not very high.

To me, the most effective program for harvesting wolves or bears is done by the direction given by the Alaska Board of Game with predator control. They could harvest a specified number of animals over the long run. Without harvesting with a long-term plan, both species will be nearly gone for a good number of years.

Recently, since the number of trappers has declined in the Galena area, many wildlife species are almost gone. For example, there are very few muskrats, minks and foxes around these days. Rabbits used to be around in the Interior for years at a time. Now, they come in small numbers for just two years and then not again until five or more years later. Even some species of fish are gone due to the imbalance in the wild and lack of predator harvest.

There are a good number of people living in the villages that solely depend on wildlife, especially moose. This has been a major part of their livelihood. The Alaska Board of Game has gone a long way to go in helping retain the wildlife species in order to maintain that level of harvest needed by those people.

Sure, some big game hunters come up from the Lower 48 and harvest a specific big game animal or fish, and they benefit to a small degree from predator control. But they support the state with their dollars. Other than them, however, I only see one other group benefiting from predator control, and that's the organizations that oppose control of harvest of any species. They earn their money by lying to the people who donate them money, saying they need to stop the ungodly slaughter of Alaska wildlife, especially the wolf-control efforts by the state of Alaska.

No one in Alaska has ever wanted to eliminate any species of wildlife, so you don't have to worry about that happening when you let the state have control. You shouldn't believe the people who are lying to make you believe that anyone in Alaska wants to exterminate wolves.

Sidney Huntington was born in Hughes in 1915, is a founder of the Galena City School and was a member of the Alaska Board of Game for nearly 20 years.

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