I am most accustomed to using the word "bounty" when I'm referring to abundance or plenty, such as in the bounty of an autumn berry harvest. Nevertheless, most recently, the term brings to mind being paid to kill wild animals. In Alaska, this means bounties of $150 will be paid for killing a wolf that lives within the five regions where extreme predator control is being instituted. Gov. Sarah Palin and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game have announced that bounties will be used as incentives to kill wolves.
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There was a time in the history of the United States that bounties were often used to rid regions of grizzly bears, condors, coyotes, foxes, sea lions, bald eagles and wolves. These programs were so pervasive and so persistent that they were a significant variable in wiping out many of these species in the Lower 48. Bounties on bald eagles along the northern Pacific Coast in the early to mid-1900s, including in Southeast Alaska, had significant effects on decreasing populations of eagles whose populations also suffered because of the use of DDT. There also was a time in our history that bounties were used to track down and kill humans.
Bounty hunting is a barbaric, archaic and unscientific way to manage wildlife. The use of bounties will encourage the illegal killing of wolves. Palin and Fish and Game want between 217 to 664 wolves killed by April 30. At $150 a pop, that will cost our state between $32,550 to $99,600, which does not include state subsidies for aviation fuel used by private pilots participating in aerial wolf killing programs.
Have our state budget priorities become so skewed that we are spending state money for bounties to kill wolves when our educational, health and social service systems and Bush Alaska are suffering for lack of state funding?
As an Alaskan, I never imagined that our state, which is blessed with the bounty of wildlife, would ever defile that bounty for $150. If you feel the same way, send an e-mail to Palin at firstname.lastname@example.org.