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Wolves unfairly targeted for predator control

Posted: October 30, 2011 - 10:33am

In reference to the article in the Oct. 24 edition of the Clarion regarding the proposal to allow aerial wolf hunting on the Kenai Peninsula and in response to today's readers' poll, it appears that a relatively innocent wild species will suffer unfairly because of the political cowardice of the Board of Fish and Game and our governor.

In this case, wolves will be singled out for aerial slaughter while the real killers -- bears, poachers and excessive hunting rules escape untouched. Statistics show that wolves are responsible for a mere 6 percent of moose kills while bears are responsible for up to 50 percent. Hunters, both legal and illegal, and car collisions account for the rest of the mortality. Should wolves, an intelligent and irrationally maligned species be made the scapegoat so that the Board and Administration can claim that "the state is doing something"?

Perhaps an even more important question is whether the Kenai Peninsula and, in fact, the rest of Alaska should be managed as a wild game farm for hunters and wealth-privileged clients of big game guides. I have done my share of fishing and hunting for food but I believe that Alaska's wildlife resources should be managed for the broadest possible enjoyment of all of our citizenry -- including the ever growing number of those participating in wildlife viewing and photography and with the simple knowledge that our fellow beings can coexist with us in their natural state in the beautiful environment of the Kenai Peninsula.

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CriticalThinker
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CriticalThinker 11/01/11 - 09:48 pm
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woof

In a subsistence society, such as the Peninsula, healthy moose populations will always be at the forefront of management efforts.

Since there is no easily attainable plan to improve habitat quality, such as burning, and with the impracticality of stopping poachers and roadkill, the plan with the highest chances of easing stress on moose is wolf harvest.

The statistics above (50% mortality from bears, 6% from wolves) are often misinterpreted. The study that those stats are derived from took place over a 3-4 month period, during the summer. In those few months bears had a larger impact that wolves on moose calves, but one must think outside the box. The remaining 8-9 months a year, the bears are either sleeping or chewing on salmon and berries. Once the snow falls, the bears fall asleep and the wolves have significant impacts on moose that are snowbound on their winter ranges and stressed from scarce browse and frigid temperatures. Also, bear mortality is relegated to calves, whereas wolf mortality comprises all age classes and sexes.

Also, the logistical contraints of harvesting bears from the air make such an endeavor quite impractical. Finding bears in thick timber, one at a time, is very time consuming, expensive and innefective. Due to the slim chances that bear harvest objectives would be approached, wolf harvest is more appealing from an economic standpoint, as well as a logistical standpoint .

To think that wolves will be wiped out is to fear lightning strikes. Refuge land is off limits to aerial hunting, and thick timber will make this plan very difficult to accomplish, yet chances of accomplishing goals are higher than the alternatives. If you leave emotion out of the equation, as best you can, and if you understand the statistics and the many biological dynamics at play, you begin to realize the corner that our managers are backed into.

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