Online Campaign Brings National Scrutiny to State's Wolf Control
The battle over the Alaska's predator control programs is spilling beyond its borders
Jason Moore / KTUU-TV / January 24, 2008
ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- The battle over the state's predator control programs is spilling beyond its borders and is now the target of federal legislation in Congress and a propaganda campaign on the Internet.
Opponents of predator control are hoping to find more a sympathetic audience Outside.
A video circulating on the website current.com spends 10 minutes building a case against Alaska's predator control programs. The clip was made by longtime opponent Dorothy Keeler, who now resides in Montana.
"I dub myself the bathrobe activist because 90 percent of this I do in the middle of the night in my bathrobe in front of my computer," she said.
Keeler says she spent five years documenting Alaska State Board of Game meetings with her video camera and is now using that video to drum up support for federal legislation that could end the programs as they're now run.
"What she's done is she's high-graded literally hundreds of hours of testimony before the Board of Game to pick out a half a dozen key quotes that support her agenda," Dept. of Fish and Game spokesman Bruce Bartley said.
The Dept. of Fish and Game oversees four predator control programs covering 9 percent of Alaska's land on which more than 670 wolves have been killed in the last several years.
Keeler claims it's all in an effort to artificially inflate moose and caribou numbers to benefit urban and trophy hunters.
"I believe the Alaska population needs to see that the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game has been cherry-picking information for years for political reasons," she said.
Bartley says asking the feds to come in is the wrong approach.
"People, I think, in a lot of ways, have a distrust of the federal government in a lot of fields," he said. "Yet in this one they want to turn around and let the federal government dictate what each state's going to do with their own wildlife populations."
Hunting groups like the Alaska Outdoor Council dismiss Keeler's video as an attempt at revisionist history and doubt any federal bills will result.
"I think the likelihood's pretty slim. I think the state of Alaska has done a good job," said Executive Director of the council, Rod Arno. "They've sent a team of biologist back to D.C. to refute the science in this."
Both sides claim science is on their side. But this debate long ago moved beyond the realm of science and will continue to be decided by political means.
The federal legislation, known as the Protecting America's Wildlife Act, or PAW Act, is said to have 100 co-sponsors but has yet to have a hearing.
Meanwhile, the predator control faces another challenge from a citizens' initiative that will be on the statewide ballot this summer.
Voters banned aerial wolf hunting twice before and both times the Legislature erased the measures after two years elapsed.