Wolf Song of Alaska News

Wolf Killing Programs Not Working

Hunters Harvesting Fewer Moose in Wolf Killing Areas

Alaska Wildlife Alliance / January 8, 2008

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Contact: John Toppenberg 907-277-9819
Vic VanBallenberghe 907-344-1613

Anchorage: A recent review of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game moose harvest records revealed that hunters are harvesting fewer moose in the areas where wolves are being killed to increase hunter opportunity. To date, millions of dollars in public funds have been spent in the state’s effort to artificially increase moose populations. Wolf killing programs are currently underway in five areas where 671 wolves have been killed by aerial gunning teams in four years.

The Alaska Wildlife Alliance, an Alaskan-based wildlife conservation organization, compared harvest records from 2003/2004, when the state first issued permits to aerial gunning teams, with the 2006 moose hunting season. Harvest records show that when wolf control was initiated, hunters harvested 1180 moose. In 2006, 1048 moose were harvested in these same areas. “This shows that there has been a net decline of 132 harvested moose”, explained John Toppenberg, Director of the Alliance.

“Alaskans have already voted to ban public aerial wolf killing twice. Now we have tell them these programs are a waste of taxpayer funds”, stated Toppenberg.

ADF&G harvest records also show whether moose were killed by urban or rural hunters. In most of the wolf control areas, up to 69% of the moose harvested was by sporthunters from Anchorage, Fairbanks and the Mat-su Valley. This is in sharp contrast to claims from ADF&G that the programs are designed to benefit rural and subsistence hunters. Toppenberg stated, “Do Alaskans support the expenditure of millions of dollars to subsidize sporthunters from the cities? I say, no they certainly don’t.”

Given the high costs of the programs and their lack of results, biologists are questioning their continuation. Dr Vic Van Ballenberghe who has studied moose and wolves in Alaska for 33 years says, "the five existing predator control programs are not based on sound science. They lack procedures to monitor and evaluate results. That is why 172 scientists recently sent a letter of concern to Governor Palin." In 1997 a National Research Council Report recommended several guidelines for future predator control programs. Van Ballenberghe states that "these
recommendations have not been followed when justifying and implementing the latest programs, thereby risking their scientific integrity and jeopardizing results."

In August, Alaskans will vote on a third ballot measure banning the use of aircraft by hunters to kill wolves and other wildlife. Prior to the initiative, ADF&G is preparing to spend $400,000 in
public funds on propaganda to justify the programs.

Harvest data was compiled by subunit from the ADF&G website, http://www.wildlife.alaska.gov/index.cfm;
Residency data by subunit was averaged over a 7 year period between 1999-2006.

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