The animal rights group Defenders of Wildlife has decided to increase the volume on its campaign against the Alaskan sporting pastime that is occasionally practiced by the state's famous governor, Sarah Palin. I speak, of course, of aerial hunting. For those not familiar with the leisure-time activity, aerial hunting requires the use of a small plane or, preferably, a helicopter, which is flown out into remote parts of the wild in search unassuming wolves. When spotted, the aircraft can stalk the prey from up high, chasing them for miles until they reach the point of exhaustion and afford the shooter in the passenger seat with a better opportunity for a kill, or, it can land close-by where the hunt resumes on foot.
To help promote what it sees as a barbaric, wasteful human endeavor, Defenders of Wildlife has enlisted the help of Hollywood actress Ashley Judd, who cut an ad targeting aerial hunting and Palin's support of it. Watch:
Palin hit back at the group yesterday:
The ad campaign by this extreme fringe group, as Alaskans we have witnessed over the last several years, distorts the facts about Alaska's wildlife management programs," Palin said. "These audacious fundraising attempts misrepresent what goes on in Alaska, and I encourage people to learn the facts about Alaska's positive record of managing wildlife for abundance."
Supporters of aerial hunting believe that it bolsters populations of animals who are the natural prey of wolves: caribou and moose. Opponents say it endangers the wolf population.
Back in 2000, the year that Alaska's ban on aerial hunting was overturned by the state legislature, the governor who Sarah Palin replaced, Tony Knowles sided with the wolves:
Knowles and a coalition of conservationists and Fish and Game Department officials say the reinstatement of aerial wolf hunting is a tremendous setback for the protection of all wolves in the United States.
"Nobody knows how many wolves there are in the state," said Joel Bennett of Defenders of Wildlife. Bennet served on the Alaska Fish and Game Department for 14 years.
So, where do you side in this debate?
Who is right on aerial hunting?
Ashley Judd - 1559 (61.8%)
Sarah Palin - 963 (38.2%)