Ads seek protection for wolves in Alaska

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2008

ANCHORAGE - Patrons of a Washington, D.C., subway station are getting a heavy dose of Alaska wildlife politics.

Alaska wolves are featured on wall posters, part of a $4,500 advertising campaign that promotes federal legislation to end aerial killing of wolves, a practice that has been used to increase moose and caribou populations.

The ads are sponsored by Defenders of Wildlife, which has used its political-action arm to run commercials in Alaska targeting Republican U.S. Rep. Don Young for his record on environmental and renewable energy issues.

For its subway campaign, Defenders picked the Capitol South Metro Station, a location that sees an average of 6,000 commuters each day,

Besides Capitol Hill staffers, many tourists pass through the stop on their way to visit the Capitol and congressional offices.

"Alaskans voted twice to ban aerial hunting, and the vote has been overturned twice," said Jessica Brand, spokeswoman for the Washington, D.C.-based Defenders of Wildlife. "The only way to end this once and for all is to close the loophole in federal legislation."

The ads feature photos of cuddly wolves as well as a wolf carcass hanging on the wing of an airplane. They urge support for the federal legislation, sponsored by Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., a longtime political adversary of Young.

Miller and Defenders of Wildlife say shooting wolves from airplanes is inhumane and violates the concept of fair chase. A renewed effort to pass a statewide ban in Alaska will come before Alaska voters again this fall.

Defenders group also wants national legislation to prevent possible aerial hunts in Idaho and Wyoming, where wolf populations that were formerly threatened are now being considered for removal from the endangered species list.

Young opposes the national legislation, saying that it infringes on the ability of individual states to control wildlife populations. Some predator control is necessary to keep the Alaska wolf population in check so they do not devour the moose and caribou available to Native villagers who depend on game for survival, Young has said.

In Alaska, where dogs near urban areas have been killed by wolves, many Alaskans have a different take on wolves than Defenders of Wildlife, said Meredith Kenny, Young's spokeswoman. One Native village is seeking permission from the state Department of Fish and Game to kill wolf pups in their dens to help control the population.

Since Miller introduced his bill, Young has sent out several "Dear Colleague" letters to fellow House members, urging opposition to the federal legislation.

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