Wolf Song of Alaska News

Alaska Fish & Game/Guiding Interests Cry “Subsistence” At Fed’s Unimak Wolf Decision

Rudy Wittshirk / Anchorage Daily News / March 9, 2011



Rudy Wittshirk

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game should give thanks to the feds for their “no action” decision on Unimak Island---thereby preventing the State from committing the most stupid and costly phase yet in their obsessive campaign to murder wolves (see my blog: “Take Me Back To Unimak”).

The feds have, as most of you must know, decided not to allow the State of Alaska to engage in predator-killing on Unimak Island, a federal refuge. Although they have approved other (almost as stupid) options to actively manage the caribou herd, including transplanting bulls to the island from the nearby mainland. Perhaps the feds are aware---as the State is not---that the Unimak Island caribou population has declined to the current level during the 1980’s and the caribou herd rebounded naturally. It has even been down to nothing in the past.

The sheer lunacy of the aggressive, anti-wolf, pro-predator control fanatics is illustrated by the fact that outside “sportsman” groups now want our Senators and Congressmen to cut US Fish and Wildlife Service funding in Alaska---despite the fact that the USFWS just this week provided a one-million dollar grant to the Alaska Division of Fish and Game to hire several wildlife ecologists! [An apparent presumption that the State actually knows what to do with “ecologists.”]

Clearly, as I and others have proven, the State’s plan to dispatch helicopter gunships to a remote island to “save” a caribou herd was cooked up to benefit none other than the trophy guiding interests which now have taken over all wildlife management in Alaska.

However, in a March 8, 2011 RELEASE, Corey Rossi, Chief Pest Control Officer of the State’s Wildlife Extermination Division, said, “We are obligated by law to manage that herd and all state-owned wildlife resources for the benefit of our citizens. This decision severely limits our options and puts this valuable subsistence resource in even further jeopardy.”

Let’s get two thing straight here:

First, if the State has to dispatch helicopter gunships it is not “subsistence“---it is a State-subsidized lifestyle. In fact, the only public comments received from Unimak Island residents opposed the States’ aerial wolf gunning proposal.

Second, by a nine-to-one ratio, the Human killing of caribou bulls on Unimak Island has been to the benefit of the trophy guiding services. In 2008 alone, trophy hunters killed 75% of the mature Caribou bulls on Unimak Island. [And therein lies a clue as to the fate of so many other once-thriving herds of moose and caribou all over Alaska!] Real subsistence hunters just can’t afford to fly-in.

“Subsistence” is the lie of choice whenever Fish and Game wants to kill something to distract the public from that agency’s incompetence and slavish loyalty to special interests. Subsistence users are just poster children for the commercial interests owning Alaska wildlife.

Now the State even claims to be worried about the wolves:

“If action is not taken soon, hunting will remain closed for years. Moreover, there is the real possibility of losing not only this caribou herd, but also the wolf population, which depends on the caribou to survive,” said Bruce Dale, Regional Supervisor. [Get real, Dale: Wolves, by the hysterical rhetoric of your own agency, are pitiless opportunists and reproducers. So, which is it?]

Apparently, according to the State, the herd is “designated a subsistence resource and state statutes require the department to manage for consumptive use by people.”

Actually, “consumptive use” is not the only Constitutional mandate.

According to Constitutional Delegate, Vic Fischer, (from the “Statehood” documentary showing on Public Television) “Common use of renewable resources in the Alaska Constitution meant that no special interest would own the resource.”

But that is exactly the situation we have now. What we have is not common use but wildlife dedicated entirely to “consumptive use” by a minority of Alaskans and Outside “sportsman“ groups. Not very much of that “consumptive use” could be called “subsistence” either---except in the wildest Last Frontier Fantasy.

Nor is this so-called “consumptive use” “sustained”---except in the sense that wildlife is consistently over-hunted. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is like Noah’s Ark---all they “manage“ for are a few breeding pairs so that wildlife can be kept from complete extinction. How else can they justify allowing the trophy guiding services to wipe out 75% of bulls from a single herd in a single year?


In order to “sustain” current, wildly varying levels of wildlife “harvest,” the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is running all over the State (and spilling over onto Federal lands) declaring a constant state of emergency in every corner of the land and killing wildlife in mass numbers as if it grew on trees.

While the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has essentially given up on science, an attempt has been made to at least sound rational:

“Caribou hunting has been closed and subsistence users on Unimak Island have few alternate sources of red meat. Last spring, state biologists developed a plan to restore the herd. The plan included selectively removing seven wolves from caribou calving grounds and, if necessary, trans-locating bull caribou from the Southern Alaska Peninsula caribou herd to supplement the Unimak herd.”

[My, that sounds very “scientifical“---and also very expensive!]

Board of Game Chairman Cliff Judkins also shared concerns about the [feds’] decision. “ANILCA requires the federal government to consider subsistence use as the highest priority. I don’t understand how they can turn their backs on subsistence users,” Judkins said.

[What he is really saying, of course, is that the feds have turned their backs on the commercial guiding services industries.]

Judkins said the decision clearly illustrates differences in the management of the state and federal agencies. “While federal land managers focus on protecting ‘wilderness character,’ the state is charged with managing wildlife on a sustained yield basis for the maximum benefit of Alaskans,” he said.

Again, the Constitutional mandate for maximum benefit does not exclude all other “common” users---to the complete and total benefit of those who extract wildlife parts and carcasses from the land for fun and profit.


The public should be aware that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game manages by slogans with double meanings:

“Common use” means “consumptive” use.

“Consumptive use” means killing wildlife. [Eating is optional.]

The word “manage” now means the gratuitous killing of wolves and bears to provide a few extra of those multi-thousand-dollar trophy guiding industry animals---and to distract the public from the fact that it is the only form of "management."

“Subsistence!“ The word “subsistence” is supposed to conjure up images of starving Bush dwellers actually living off the land. It is the most devious and immoral of all these slogans.

“Sustained yield” means keeping the recreational and commercial wildlife-killing interests happy by killing yet more wildlife.

“Science” has not been used much lately by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game---even as a slogan. Therefore, it is understandable that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game might be somewhat confused since the US Fish and Wildlife Service decision about Unimak was based more on science and less on politics. For the State of Alaska, it is the reverse.

And, by the way, “removing” usually means killing by any means except, as far as we know, by poison (although “gas“ has been used to kill wolf pups in their dens).


In the case of Unimak Island, the Federal Government is more sane than the State of Alaska. There are, however, still some Alaskans remaining who actually value and respect what was once real wilderness---despite the shabby way the State of Alaska treats its wild lands and wild animals. Alaska is now beset with a wildlife management system gone mad. I would say “running wild“---but it’s really nothing more than an over-civilized, tamed, domesticated, political-business model to benefit emotional wildlife-killing recreationists and the commercial industries that profit from them.

- Rudy Wittshirk


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