Wolves make the caribou strong

Posted: Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Rick Kaufman's letter (April 2) about the wolf massacre being perpetrated under the guise of wildlife management was amazingly misleading.

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Like many who favor the brutality of aerial hunting he neglects to note it is just as unpopular with Alaskans who twice voted to ban it. The only group that supports it are the extremists of the Alaska Outdoors Council and the Alaska Trappers Association. The Board of Game consists solely of members of these two groups and have often chosen to go against the recommendations of Fish and Game as they pursue their vendetta against wolves and bears. This is the group that after constantly proclaiming how scientifically based their decisions are eventually produced 77 pages of corrections when their actions were brought before a judge.

Mr. Kaufman's invocation of the constitutional mandate is also very misleading, for anyone reading it quickly realizes it overwhelmingly favors hunters and trappers in making consumption the primary use of our wildlife. It ignores the literally hundreds of thousands of Alaskans who don't hunt or trap but simply want to enjoy looking at the critters, those who make a living photographing them or leading eco-tourism groups.

As to the "more moose and caribou" angle, Mr. Kaufman might want to look at the Tanana Flats across the river from Fairbanks. Wolves there were decimated as part of "intensive management" and now the moose population is so overloaded with nonreproducing cows that for the past three years a special cow season has been set. Despite this, not enough are being taken and the biologists in charge are warning the moose population as a whole is headed for a disastrous crash much like that experienced by the Nelchina Caribou herd after the wolves were heavily trapped in that area. There, too, intensive management was at work. These situations explain why Fish and Game biologists testified against it when it was first introduced in the Legislature. Intensive management, favored by the Alaska Outdoors Council and Board of Game, has damaged our wildlife more than any predators ever could.

For all their rhetoric, people such as Mr. Kaufman and the Board of Game will never learn the simple truth of the Native saying, "It is the wolf that makes the caribou strong."

Art Greenwalt


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