Knowles goes for political wolf control

Posted: Tuesday, March 07, 2000

The following editorial appeared in last Wednesday's Fairbanks Daily-News Miner:

Either wolf control in the McGrath and Copper River basin areas is acceptable or it's not. Either protecting the Toklat pack of wolves from all hunting and trapping is acceptable or it's not. The two questions have little to do with one another, unless you're wrapped up in the politics of the Knowles administration.

Then they seem to create a beautiful political opportunity, a bargain, if you will.

Knowles is hedging his bets on wolf control near McGrath and in the Copper River basin. He wants to know more about it - not a bad idea in itself. So one would think that if the people who advocate wolf control have their information and arguments honed, they might be able to talk him into it.

But the administration seems to have thrown in another hurdle. The board should first place a zone of protection around the Toklat pack, Knowles said. The pack roams in and out of the central northern boundaries of Denali National Park and Preserve, a good 150 miles from McGrath and a major mountain range away from the Copper River basin.

``In conjunction with the principles of wildlife management, relevant scientific findings, and a priority of human uses,'' Knowles said in a statement last week, ``the Board of Game should proceed in the following direction and sequence.''

First in his sequence is the protection of the Toklat pack, Knowles said. ``The time to establish significant and appropriate areas of complete protection for wolves is long overdue,'' he said.

Knowles then listed a few more items in the sequence. They included: Expansion of no-hunting areas for bears in many areas of the state, adoption of a no-bear-control policy by the Game board, and, then, appointment of a group to consider wolf control near McGrath.

No one should kid themselves. Wildlife management is all politics. All the management methods - bag limits, seasons, allowable kill techniques, geographic and racial restrictions and predator control - are derived from people's sensibilities and politics.

Rarely, however, does the discussion devolve to simple barter, which is where it seems to have landed last week. Perhaps that element of politics was inevitable, too, but we should all resist.



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