Predator control is a tough job

Posted: Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Here are just a few words in support of Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the field biologists who killed the mature wolves then later found the pups and decided shooting them was the right thing to do.

I've lived in Alaska for 35 years and never have so much as fired a single shot at an animal, except one grouse. That's not because I don't own firearms or object to hunting. I enjoy target shooting and, when I lived in Montana, I hunted elk, deer, antelope, moose, mountain sheep, pheasant, and grouse. I don't hunt in Alaska because it's too much work for what you get. That is one of the reasons I admire people who live in the Bush and live a subsistence lifestyle.

I have seen a mountain lion attack a deer and I've seen the results of coyotes attacking range calves. The lions and coyotes were once cute little kits and pups. They grew up and became the predators nature intended them to be. Predators always take the easiest prey available. If the grown wolves came upon caribou calves in their range they would have killed as many of them as they could catch. And they don't dispatch them with a bullet to the brain.

The Fish and Game biologists made the correct and humane choice. Had they left the wolf pups to Mother Nature they would have starved or become prey for any of a number larger predators. Imagine for a moment the difference between the deaths they died compared to being killed by an eagle. Some people say they should have been put in a zoo. The home range of an Alaska wolf pack varies from 200 to 600 square miles of habitat. I cannot imagine many things more cruel to that kind of animal than locking it up in a zoo.

In addition, many people object to shooting wolves from helicopters. It seems to me that once you make the difficult decision to cull any group of animals you should do it in the most efficient way possible. Shooting from helicopters has been determined to be the most efficient way. Fair chase is not an issue in any kind of animal culling. The only thing I would change is to mount .30-caliber machine guns in the helicopter doors.

Those people have a right to live a subsistence lifestyle if they choose. People who truly depend on wildlife to feed their families are more important than wolves or any other animals. Fish and Game does the best job it can to manage this resource with that as a primary consideration. I support them; it's a tough job.

Robert Schofield

Retired state employee

Juneau



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