Wolves thrilled visitors

Posted: Wednesday, February 06, 2002

I recently moved to Alaska after visiting and working here for several years. I moved from a place that used to have grizzlies in numbers rivaling Alaska. Numerous reports describe from 10 to 40 bears feeding on acorns in certain oak groves in the fall. There were huge herds of tule elk in the marshlands, pronghorn antelope on the grassy benches, bighorn sheep in the mountains; wolves, lions and bears were the predators. Now there are large numbers of raccoons, possums and skunks.

California ain't what it used to be.

Due to a certain lack of restraint the grizzlies are extinct, the wolves extinct, and the elk, sheep and pronghorns exist in sparse, scattered populations, expensively managed and constantly threatened.

A couple of days ago I talked to a man who was a guide on an Allen Marine tour last summer. Near Hilda Point on the back side of Douglas Island, they spotted six or seven wolves. Several visitors told him that this sighting was the high point of their trip to Alaska. He got some pictures.

What thrilled those visitors is why I moved to Alaska. The wildness is still here. The recent trapping of this entire wolf pack, probably every wolf on Douglas Island, is an example of the lack of restraint that has made most of the Lower 48 so sterile.

Because we can do a thing doesn't mean we should. Trappers and hunters could show restraint as they have as much of a stake in sustaining wild "resources" as anybody. If that is not to be, then I would urge the Board of Game to take steps to prevent extermination of entire island populations of any native animal, even if newly arrived.

Mike Tobin


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