Wolf Song of Alaska News

Predator Control

Ballot Measure 2 -Deception at Its Worst

Dave Kelleyhouse / The Voice of the Times / August 19, 2008

With energy and grocery costs going through the roof, thousands of Alaskans are depending upon a successful fall hunting season to help make ends meet.

Unfortunately, a well-funded handful of Alaskan and Outside animal rights activists opposed to hunting are working hard to eliminate most hunting opportunities in the future.

Ballot Measure 2 is the brainchild of Southeastern animal activists associated with the national Defenders of Wildlife and would stop Alaska's successful wildlife management programs.

It is a shrewdly written bill, the effect of which is to cripple the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's ability to reduce predation on vulnerable newborn moose and caribou calves. It is a decidedly anti-conservation bill that deserves a resounding "no" vote on Aug. 26.
Scientific studies conducted over the past 30 years have shown that without the ability to temporarily reduce predation on moose, populations will decline to extremely low numbers and remain at low numbers indefinitely. This was certainly the case . . .
(cont'd from front page)with the Fortymile Caribou Herd and moose in the Fortymile country in the 1970s when the animals became so scarce that the ecosystem suffered, including the wolves.

The primary sponsor of Ballot Measure 2 has done everything possible to prevent wildlife management programs to rebuild the herds since the early 1980s, but he failed.

Scientifically justified and professionally conducted predator management programs have since resulted in an important caribou herd numbering about 40,000 and a productive moose population that is still growing. The situation is similar in the Nelchina and Copper River basins with moose and the Nelchina Caribou herd at healthy, productive levels.

These are not the kind of success stories anti-hunters want to acknowledge. In fact, supporters of Ballot Measure 2 have filed a lawsuit that could prevent the Alaska Department of Fish and Game from distributing factual educational information regarding the state's predation management programs to the public prior to the election.

The entire Ballot Measure 2 campaign is one big con job intended to deceive Alaskan voters. The primary advertising message is that the initiative is needed to stop aerial hunting, but aerial hunting has not been legal in Alaska for 37 years.

Alaska's predation management programs are in full compliance with the federal Airborne Hunting Act (1971) and can only be conducted by authorized agents of the state under strict permit conditions. Because such predation management programs are not hunting, the concept of "fair chase" should not, and does not, apply.

The sponsors falsely claim that the initiative allows predation management, but the actual wording of the bill would effectively prevent all current and future predator management programs from actually being implemented. The preservationists are using prominent pictures of bears in their ads, but it has never been legal to take bears from aircraft in Alaska.

Finally, one of the sponsors is identified as residing in "Inupiaq Villages" in an effort to appeal to rural voters, but is actually a retired school teacher who has been living in Juneau.

In sharp contrast to the ethical breaches of the anti-hunters, I have the utmost respect for the ethics, professionalism and dedication of Alaska's wildlife biologists who spend untold hours conducting aerial game surveys and research, analyzing data and sharing their factual findings with the public, Board of Game and the Alaska Legislature to help develop sound wildlife laws and policy.

When federal officials decided to capture wolves for reintroduction to the Rocky Mountains in the 1990s, they called upon professional Alaskan wildlife biologists and experienced bush pilots to get this historic job done. Ironically, some of the same people who applauded the reintroduction are now trying to derail Alaska's own successful wolf management programs with Ballot Measure 2.

Please support Alaska's professional wildlife biologists and vote "no" on Ballot Measure 2 this August 26 so that your children and grandchildren may have the opportunity enjoy the broad benefits of abundant and productive wildlife populations in the future.
Dave Kelleyhouse is a retired wildlife biologist and a former director of the Division of Wildlife Conservation of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

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