Many Alaskans have expressed ethical concerns regarding the recent killing of wolf pups at their den site by state biologists. I share these concerns, and question the legality of the killings. The lack of media coverage or any other investigation is perplexing.
Alaska State regulation 5 AAC 92.110(i) states, "Denning, the killing of wolf young in the den, is prohibited." Furthermore, the initial press release issued by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game failed to mention that 14 neonatal pups were among the 28 wolves killed in this predator control action, which was authorized by the Board of Game. Simply stating that 28 wolves were killed is incomplete and misleading.
Given the illegality of "denning," it is incomprehensible that state biologists carried out predator control measures in spring when it is well known that pups are in the den. One must wonder whether the events were premeditated or the result of incompetence. Any wildlife biologist worth their degree knows the season when wolf packs are found near denning sites caring for small and completely dependent pups.
If predator control measures are determined necessary, based upon sound scientific evidence, then state personnel are logically the ones who should do it. But "denning", which has been illegal for decades, should not be tolerated regardless of who puts the pistol to the heads of the wolf pups. Why is this issue receiving next to zero coverage in the media? Where is the investigation? Full disclosure regarding how and why such control action was carried out at this time of year should be provided by the department.