State to produce $100,000 video on wolf control

Wildlife advocates say public relations effort is a waste of money

Posted: Wednesday, March 24, 2010

ANCHORAGE - The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is planning to spend $100,000 on a video meant to explain the state's controversial wolf-killing program.

The plans come to light a week after tensions over the wolf-killing program flared when Fish and Game officers shot wolves from helicopters in the Interior, wiping out a pack that included a pair fitted with radio collars for research work by the National Park Service.

Fish and Game's Riley Woodford said the video has been longed planned and was not provoked by particular incidents. The state asked for bids from video producers last week.

"We're not trying to make a big commercial to get people to like predator control. But we want people to understand that wolves are not almost extinct in Alaska. There are lots of wolves in Alaska, and this is how it works," he said.

But animal rights advocates aren't convinced. Alaska Wildlife Alliance director John Toppenberg said the video sounds like a waste of money.

"It's another example of the Department of Fish and Game using public money to facilitate a narrow agenda geared to special interests. Those special interests being extremists within the hunting community, exemplified by Sportsmen for Wildlife," he said.

Pricilla Feral, president of Connecticut-based Friends of Animals, said the video is a public relations effort by the state at a time when officials are removing a protective buffer outside the state's Denali National Park and Preserve.

"And they don't think enough people agree with them? That enough people don't understand what they're doing is saintly? Alaska must have a lot of money to waste," Feral said.

Woodford said the video will address the most frequent questions and criticisms. Dane Crowley, director of the Alaska executive director of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, said there's nothing wrong with the video addressing misconceptions about the predator control program.

"Do I think education is a good idea? I think education is a good idea, yes," she said.

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