Wolf Song of Alaska News

Which Side Are You On?

Rod Arno, Executive Director / Alaska Outdoor Council / Winter 2008 Newsletter


Thanks to the ongoing efforts of the Defenders of Wildlife and their friends Alaskan voters next summer will have to again choose whether using aerial shooting to manage predator and prey numbers is an acceptable practice. "Ballot Box Biology" is on the table again. Recent statewide polls suggest that most Alaskan voters have already chosen which side of the debate they favor. Less than five percent of those polled had no opinion regarding aerial predator management.

So what are people making their decision on when they choose to vote on an initiative to ban the practice of aerial shooting to reduce predation? Either they are Alaskans who actually understand the effectiveness of aerial predator reduction, or they believe what critics of aerial predator control are telling them about the practice.

In an attempt to sway voter opinion anti-game management advocacy groups continually cry "aerial predator reduction is unethical, unsportsman like, and not fair chase hunting" in all their media blitzes.

Pro-game management organizations maintain that aerial predator reduction in many cases is by far the most effective tool for increasing the survival rates of depressed populations of moose, caribou, and Dall sheep in Alaska. It doesn't have anything to do with sport hunting, "fair chase" or hunters' ethics. Those are not valid criteria by which to judge management of predator/prey systems.

Most environmental organizations question the practice of managing wildlife for human consumptive use. Instead they say "let nature balance itself ". They contend that it is just fine if all wildlife populations remain at low levels indefinitely. Pro-consumptive use advocates say "wildlife is a renewable resource" that should be managed for human use on a sustained yield basis.

So how do Alaskan voters choose which side of the "wildlife management" debate to be on? Advocates on both sides know perfectly well that banning the most effective method for reducing predation renders "big game management" just so many words.

Alaska has been the proving ground for what noted conservation speaker Shane Mahoney calls the "North American Model for Wildlife Conservation" - which has worked for over 100 years. This approach to conserving wildlife and their habitats is dependent on providing continued hunting opportunities. These opportunities have been provided under state laws which provide for game management including effective predator/prey management. History has shown that this conservation model works; neither side in this debate can deny that fact.

To support "ballot box biology" undermines what Mahoney explained has worked so well for North American conservation.

Predator/prey management allows those Alaskans who choose to hunt to continue their practice of being active participants in wildlife conservation -- without diminishing the health of the wildlife resources. It is unfortunate that anti-hunting and anti-management advocacy groups continue to waste everyone's time and money battling over "which side are we on" in the voter initiative process when we should all share the same goal of wildlife conservation.

Please vote to defeat the latest proposed ban, Ballot Measure 8, on aerial predator management during next year's Primary election instead of promoting further divisive initiatives let's work together to sustain robust wildlife populations and the habitats upon which they depend.

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