The Alaska Department of Fish and Game sent out a news release on Tuesday announcing the availability of some materials in its effort to help people sort fact from fiction in the emotional debate about the control of wildlife predators. In it, Division of Wildlife Conservation Director Doug Larsen notes, "It is clear that many people don't have accurate information about predator management in Alaska."
Mr. Larsen is too kind.
Like it or not, the wolf-control debate is not a debate conducted solely in Alaska by Alaskans - that much should be clear to even the minimally interested after many years of ballot initiatives, lawsuits and public relations campaigns. And in that debate, there are people who play loose with the facts and who make statements based on an emotional attachment to the wolf and all that its supporters say it embodies. A lot of that is symbolism, however; the the wolf in Alaska is a predator that lives in sufficient number and needs to be controlled.
Many people just can't bring themselves to see the wolf as a wily, dangerous, ruinous thief.
"We receive a lot of calls and letters from people in and outside the state assuming that wolves are almost extinct in Alaska or mistakenly concluding we are trying to eliminate them altogether," Mr. Larsen also says in the news release.
A lot of the misstatements of fact, we suspect, are innocent in their nature. Many wolf supporters who have contacted the Daily News-Miner over the years appear to be concerned citizens in the Lower 48 getting involved in an issue on a superficial level, with comments falling into the category of "Wolves are magnificent. How could Alaskans think to kill them?"
Any effort by the state to provide information that is fair and accurate - and we hope that it is - about wolf control should be welcomed by all sides in the debate.