Wolf hunt auction causing Web furor

Posted: Sunday, April 29, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A wolf hunt offered on a Web site as a fund-raiser for rock star Ted Nugent's Kamp for Kids is causing a furor.

An online petition has been posted opposing the eBay auction for a guided wolf hunt near Denali National Park and Preserve. The hunt is being offered by outfitter Brent Keith of Healy. The money would go toward teaching city children how to bowhunt.

According to the eBay listing, the hunter and guide will use snowmachines over five days next March to hunt ''the Alaskan wolf'' in an area 10 miles north of Denali park. The hunter may kill up to five wolves, the listing said. Bids closed April 8, with the lone bidder paying $1,000.

The Kamp for Kids' fund-raiser quickly drew fire when someone noticed the eBay listing and posted an online petition opposing it on ThePetitionSite.com, a post-it-yourself petition site. Alaska wolf advocates also oppose the hunt because of its proximity to Denali park, where they are trying to protect two widely viewed wolf packs.

By Saturday, nearly 8,500 people had added their names to a letter addressed to eBay's chief executive officer.

''We find this kind of offer sickening, and a poor reflection on eBay,'' wrote the petition's chief author, identified as Tyler Stamper. ''We ask that eBay do the right thing and make a public press release stating that it will no longer allow animal hunts to be auctioned on its site.''

Chris Donlay, a spokesman for eBay, said that as long as the hunt is legal, the company will not interfere. Linda Peterson, a spokeswoman for Nugent, said he was not available for comment.

The hunt does appear to be legal, said Bruce Bartley, a spokesman for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. State law allows hunters to use snowmachines to look for wolves but not to chase them.

The petition is especially timely because the Alaska Board of Game will take up the issue of whether to enlarge a no-hunting and no-trapping buffer around Denali park in a special meeting May 20-21.

Wolves are protected inside the park, but wolf advocates argue that the park also needs a no-hunting, no-trapping buffer to protect the Toklat and Sanctuary wolf packs that roam in and out of the park. Some 20,000 people view and photograph the Toklat wolves each year along the Denali Park Road.

The Game Board in November approved a small buffer on state land outside the park. The new proposal before the board would add more land, for a total of 72 square miles.

''We're looking to the Board of Game to set those lands aside,'' said Paul Joslin, director of the Alaska Wildlife Alliance.

Joslin said he fears Keith and his client will wind up shooting some Denali wolves that occasionally roam outside the park. Some of the packs have so few members, Joslin said, that hunting could wipe them out.

Keith, the Healy miner and hunting guide who is offering the hunt as a fund-raiser for Nugent's camp, said he does not plan to target park wolves. He said he plans to hunt in an area well east of the park near the Upper Wood River. Keith is chairman of the Middle Nenana Fish and Game Advisory Committee, a group that makes recommendations to the Game Board.

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