The Alaska Department of Fish and Game's wolf control program is controversial enough without killing collared wolves from packs being studied by the National Park Service.
Fish and Game did just that a couple weeks ago, killing all four members of a pack the park service had asked them to spare, including two collared for research.
To top it off, Alaskans are hearing two different stories about what happened. Greg Dudgeon, park service superintendent for Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, said he was told the shooter knew the wolves were collared and shot them anyway.
Fish and Game said the collared wolves were shot by mistake. Fish and Game said shooting the uncollared wolves in the same pack was no mistake. The wolves were on state land outside the preserve.
First, the state and park service should find out what happened. If the shooter took the wolves knowing they were collared, the shooter shouldn't be doing that job anymore.
Either way, the state should cooperate with the park service instead of butting heads with it. One result in this case will be an emergency closure of wolf hunting and trapping in the preserve. And another result, even if undeserved, is that Fish and Game looks like an outfit with a shoot-first, ask-questions-later mentality.
Predator control is a hard business at best. All the more reason to make sure professionals are doing it.
Don't shoot collared wolves.
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