The proposed aerial gunning of wolves will be the first such program of legal aerial wolf kills in Alaska in more than a decade and calls for eliminating as many wolves as possible from an experimental management area, plus a larger area surrounding it - a total of some 1,700 square miles. Hunters in planes will search for wolves, "buzz" the pack and chase them until the animals are exhausted. Pilots will then shoot the wolves from the air or land and shoot the animals as they flounder in the snow. Such practices cause tremendous stress for wolves, disrupt pack dynamics by separating adults from their young and can result in wounded individual wolves who are too physically compromised to survive in the wild.
Alaskan voters previously stopped wolf hunting from aircraft through ballot initiatives and a referendum. However, certain state officials have blatantly ignored public opinion in favor of appeasing hunters who demand that wolves be killed to boost moose and caribou herds. Since the early 1970s, poll after poll has found that overwhelming majorities of Americans support efforts to protect and restore wolves. Numerous scientific studies show that wolves are beneficial to the overall health of natural ecosystems, and keep Alaska's moose and caribou populations healthy and strong. Wolves are also important to Alaska's billion-dollar tourism industry.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) shares the views of most Alaskans that aerial killing of wolves is abhorrent, inhumane and unethical. This practice should remain banned!
Jill A. Buckley
Legislative Liaison, ASPCA
Pismo Beach, Calif.