Empire editorial: No call for killing the black wolf

Posted: Thursday, March 24, 2005

It is regrettable that the Mendenhall Lake wolf - a fixture of Juneau's wildlife scene for two years now - is now in some people's crosshairs. The black wolf that has grown increasingly brave as observers have crowded it has reportedly killed a beagle.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game reports that the calls are about even between those who want the wolf's head or relocation and those who want it left alone.

A wolf killing the family pet is a harsh awakening, and it's understandable that others who enjoy walking the area with dogs would want the threat neutralized. But the reality is that biologists have issued this warning for two years, and still people have approached the wolf and allowed their dogs to frolic with it. It should not be surprising that the wolf finally acted as wild animals sometimes will.

To kill the wolf without clear evidence that it will routinely stalk and prey on pets is overkill. Nonetheless, Fish and Game's plan to harass the wolf and shoot it with rubber bullets makes sense. Obviously the wolf has lost too much of its natural fear of humans. Wolves historically have not posed a threat to humans, but each encounter that moves the animal closer to domestication makes it more of a wild card.

In the meantime, those who bring pets to the area have a responsibility - to themselves, the public and their own pets - to restrain those pets and to minimize contact with wildlife. Enjoy the view, but let the wolf be a wolf.



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