To the editor:
Friends of Animals denounces the Alaska Board of Game's recent approval of aerial wolf control.
Alaskans have allowed their bureaucracy to be taken over by extremists - people who want to annihilate wolves and other natural predators.
The game board plans to have state agents shooting wolves from helicopters before the caribou birth season in mid-May. The target area includes a handful of villages in the southern peninsula. This remote area in the Aleutian arc is also home to some 600 caribou, which may be hunted by wolves or bears, and whose newborns are sometimes eaten by eagles.
The justification for targeting the area's few dozen wolves? To give human hunters inside and outside the community a steady number of caribou to shoot, despite the obvious reality that hunting itself depletes the caribou population.
The board wishes to deem caribou the equivalents of vegetables. Referring to a two-year absence of caribou births, Cathie Harms, spokesperson for ADF&G, complained to the Anchorage Daily News, "We've already lost two cow crops."
Gordon Haber, an Alaska-based scientist is critical of aerial gunning of wolves to increase caribou numbers. The area's residents have access to grains, vegetables and other food. And tourists who show up to stalk Alaska's animals can stay in a lodge on the peninsula and read a menu like that found in hotels anywhere. Wolves are eking out a living here and ought to be allowed to do that.
Ecological science shows it's unnatural to expect large groups of caribou to stay in one spot. Caribou move when grasses and other foods are scarce, and poor range conditions have long been observed in technical reports prepared for the BOG. One such report in March 1990 said the caribou declined due to shooting by hunters as well as low births linked to poor range conditions and predation. Wolves are only one of several predators. The state's mean-spirited and deeply unpopular wolf-shooting forays must stop. Friends of Animals calls upon Alaskans to raise their collective voice now against the game board's latest chest-beating display of authority over animal life.