Friday, December 23, 2005

Aerial wolf control benefits wildlife and people

The Fairbanks Daily News Miner reports that the State of Alaska is going ahead with plans for a third year in a row to issue permits for aerial wolf control. The plan is to allow up to 400 wolves to be taken in this way -- 4 to 6% of the state's wolf population.

The point is to increase populations of moose and caribou especially, and despite incessant protest, wolf control works. Alaskans use moose and other ungulates extensively for food; particulary in rural areas, but even urban Alaskans supplement their diets with game meat. Predators take some 80% of the moose and caribou that die in an average year, but humans only 10%, ADF&G reports.

Wolf predation can force moose populations to a very low level from which they can take years to recover. Intelligently applied predator management can break that cycle and provide more moose for hunters and for four-legged predators. I have seen it work in a number of areas over the years, providing abundant wildlife for users.

Not everyone thinks this a good idea, of course. Three Alaskans have filed an initiative petition to halt aerial wolf control.

Ballot initiatives are an idea whose time has gone. In the 30+ years I have watched these in Alaska, it seems to me that one truth emerges: he who spends the most money or who has the sexiest campaign generally wins. is always easiest to be against something.

This is no way to run a republic. We are busy people, and we cannot expect to be expert on all kinds of issues?..and yet when it comes time to vote on these things, we are expected to suddenly have the expertise to make wise decisions? We hire good people to represent us at all levels. When they don?t do well, we vote them out. I am weary of ballot initiatives.

As for the current program, I say "full speed ahead."

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