Wolf Song of Alaska News

Blog Response to AOC's 'Which Side Are You On?'

Leo Keeler / February 3, 2008


One question not asked or discussed is this - Why did the Federal Government have to take the management of fish and game away from the State and establish federal regulations for hunting and fishing on federal lands? UNDER FEDERAL LAW, PEOPLE LIVING IN RURAL ALASKA (all people, not just native people), ARE TO HAVE PRIORITY IN HARVESTING FISH AND WILDLIFE RESOURCES. Alaska's game management system considers every hunter a subsistence hunter and does not allow a rural priority. Urban hunters and lobbyists have fought to prevent changes in Alaska's system to allow a rural priority for decades. So I wonder if those in this blog that say they need to kill wolves in order to meet their subsistence needs really live in rural areas, or if they are urban hunters who are trying to protect actions intended to make it easier for them have a successful hunt that they can tell their neighbor about. Many feel improving success ratios for urban hunters does not justify predator control. Yes, I understand that most hunters use the meat they harvest, as I always have. But being dependent on it in rural Alaska is not the same as being what Alaska calls a subsistence hunter with a Wal-Mart nearby. Fearing the spread of aerial wolf hunting to the lower 48 states, people are asking for facts about the aerial wolf hunting program in Alaska. Some hope those facts will counter the proposed Protect America's Wildlife (PAW) Act. Few realize the PAW Act does not stop all aerial hunting, but requires it to be based on sound science, not just the wishes of the hunting lobby, a small vocal minority. (Less than 15% of all Alaskans hold a hunting license.

( http://www.adn.com/outdoors/hunting/story/9219177p-9135328c. html )

McGrath, Alaska, was ground zero for the startup of aerial wolf control and has had the most scientific studies of any area of the state. I was appointed to the McGrath Adaptive Management team assigned to find out why hunters were not finding enough Bull Moose to harvest. Studies of subsistence needs for just the McGrath area indicated the need to harvest 100-150 moose, which Fish and Game said required a population of 3,000-3,500 moose. Predation studies showed that bears were the main predators, and a study was done removing bears in the spring so more calves survived. That increased calf survival lasted until the next winter, which was more severe than normal, and most of surviving calves died because of weather, not predation. Intense population studies were done at McGrath, rather than the general population trend survey that had been done for years. The good studies showed that there were between 2,800 and 3,200 moose in the area we desired to have 3,000-3,500, and it showed the core of the problem, the bull cow ratio, which should have been nearly 25 - 40 bulls per 100 cows was down to as low as 6 per 100. That ratio indicates over hunting. Over hunting was also indicated by the bulls having smaller antlers.

(Look under Harvests - http://wildlife.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=hunting.moose and http://www.akwildlife.com/Page5.htm )

All this scientific information was set aside when Governor Murkowski came into office and appointed a new, very radical Board of Game. This Board is so radical, that I fear they will soon approve DENNING - the practice of killing wolf pups and bears and cubs while in their dens - just to increase urban hunter success ratios, without any real regard to helping those living in rural areas that have a higher dependence on natural resources. If they want to show real concern for rural Alaskans, those crying wolf should be crying for better control of urban and trophy hunters and initiating permit systems that help guarantee bull cow ratios do not drop as low as they have near McGrath. I believe under a permit system there will be as much hunting opportunity as there is today, and very likely much higher success ratios.

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