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August 29, 2008

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Discussion Topic: Alaska’s Predator Control Initiative Shot Down

From the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner:

A ballot initiative that would end the state's predator control program as now conducted was failing at the polls . . . .

With 70 percent of the votes counted, the measure was lagging with more than 55 percent of voters saying no. . . .

The state's predator control program, . . . now operating in five areas of Alaska, is designed to help boost moose and caribou numbers. . . .

Cliff Judkins, board game chairman, said he can understand why people don't much like predator control but wants Alaskans to know it is done as a last resort.

"There is just no other way to reduce the wolves," he said. . . .

No one needs moose and caribou meat so much that wolves and bears need to be shot from the air, said Breffny Conley, 48, of Chugiak, as he prepared to vote.

"I think it is morally wrong. That is a sport for cowards," he said. "God gives us things on earth that you can work for or steal. That's stealing."

What do you think?



Obviously the Alaskan people know that keeping the moose and caribou populations burgeoning is tantamount to their state's livelihood. However, the YouTube videos of wolves being gunned down from crop-dusters is not good for recruiting supporters of hunting.

Maybe the Last Frontier could attract more predator hunters to use "normal" tactics by lowering license costs or removing some restrictions on in/out of state hunters? What about longer seasons?



How did the Moose / Bears / Wolves live for the last oh..... 10,000 years?. As a hunter I am sick of "Farm" raised Elk / Moose, it's long over due we have wildlife that is WILD, not UNnaturally booster by so called Predator control. Cowards who shoot from planes are, cowards......


Its easy for the libtards to have all the answers sitting on the couch and never seen or shot a wild wolf ex on tv. the natural cycle is excess then starvation which is nasty to see and man has harvested wolves for fur but there are less trappers every year. I have seen wolves decimate large herds of elk and moose in a few years as they reproduce like rabbits and kill incessantly. not like the fairytales of Mowat. culling a few wolves however necessary instills a fear of man in them and more big game survive. also keeps them from moving to habitated areas to kill livestock. The mess in the states from transplanting our wolves shows how quickly they get out of control and lose their fear of us.



Well said. Alberta hunter would have us believe that all wildlife was in peril from wolves until humans showed up in North America about 15,000 years ago. And even those humans did not feel the need to kill every wolf they saw. This blind hate of wolves showed up here about 500 years ago with Europeans. The Indians, elk, and moose did just fine for some time. The aerial gunning program is a disgrace and an embarrassement to America. The fact that it is being done to provide more game for recreational hunting will give PETA more ammo to use against us. Way to go Alaska. You are killing this sport. The animal rights groups just need to sit back and relax while some of our own destroy hunting through redneck policy like this.


Didn't the idea that you need to kill predators to increase game die out decades ago? Predators cull the weak and make the herd stronger. This is not Yellowstone, where Elk lived without predators for decades and then were confronted with them again.

If you have a surplus of wolves or bears, give hunters tags. If the area is so remote, that hunters will not venture in, then why would you be hunting moose there anyway? Shooting from a helicopter or plane is just lazy.


I think this is something for people in alaska to deal with. I guess I didnt think that alaska was that over populated with bears and wolves. Wolves I could see but like Patrick said...its not like wolves and bears are walking around killing carabou and moose that are healthy...they kill the old and sick and weak and it does make the herd stronger, its a fact and its been going on to thousands of years. You're right patrick it isnt yellowstone this is alaska. Two totally differant places.


How can a man be the board game chairman and make the statement "there's no other way to reduce wolf numbers" other than sharpshooters contracted by the state? I'm not board game chairman but I can certainly see that there are many more options to reduce wolf numbers. Licensed quota hunting, sterilization, and relocation are the top three I can easily think of. Are we talking about reducing wolf numbers or boosting moose or carribou numbers? If he wants to boost moose or carribou numbers why doesn't he mention the obvious- cutting down on available hunting tag quotas? The problem is that in Alaska game population control is not based on healthy population numbers management but influenced strongly by politics pure and simple. That is no way to conserve game numbers for future hunting generations.


Don't you people understand that predator control is the only really EFFECTIVE WAY to manage predator populations? The Game Board Chairman meant that it is the only effective way to keep their numbers at a reasonable level, and do so in a timely manner.

Sure, we can open longer seasons, in more areas, to greater numbers of hunters, and hope that that will take care of overpopulation problems. But lets face it, what kind of success rates do wolf and bear hunters have in these kinds of situations? If you look at the numbers and the data collected by the Fish and Wildlife Dpts. you'll see that they are pretty low...as in generally less than 20%.
And sterilization? Really? Come on, do you know what that would cost the states? And do you realize it would have to be done every couple years as the young wolves reached maturity?

Cowardly to shoot wolves from a chopper or a plane? I think not. You try it and then try to tell me its cowardly.
And you guys say its killing the sport of hunting? No, this is its saving grace, though it may not look like it. And no, it is not a disgrace to America. It is presicely what Americans (except many of the politicians we've seen in our offices) have done and striven to do since the founding of this great country: be innovative, efficient and effective.

The way the F&W departments work, and the way the bureacracy slows their work down, it takes up to a couple years for them to decide if they are even going to open up a season, let alone to lengthen it or open it to more hunters. And that's way too slow, because by that time, the opportunity to keep the predator population at a reasonable level and to prevent the over-taxation of the prey populations will have been missed by months, and things will have already gotten out of hand.

It's just like the way it is right now with the wolf seasons in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana: too little too late. Federal ESA wolf population objectives for these regions were met 4 years ago, but the state F&W departments' hands were tied because imbeciles in Washington DC said they couldn't act until now to prevent wolf overpopulation and deer and elk decimation. But now that its too late and the pendulum has obviously swung too far the other direction, they are finally getting the opportunity to do something that is actually good for both predator and prey populations. But even now, bigger imbeciles (who really don't know the first thing about ecology and population dynamics) are filing lawsuits to try to prevent the wolf seasons from becoming realized.

Interestingly, the main argument given by wolf-lovers is that the presence of wolves will (do a better job than human hunters to) keep deer and elk numbers in check. Yet they fail to connect that same argument to wolf numbers: they ignore the fact that, just like deer and elk, wolves will not manage their own population dynamics, and that for the betterment of all species involved, wolf numbers must be kept low, so that the prey populations will be able to sustain the kill rates required to feed wolves. Because right now, the facts are that wolf numbers are growing at a rapid pace, and that where they are present, wolves are eating more deer and elk than are being recruited into the prey populations annually. And at this point, the only way to prevent that from posing serious problems (i.e. deer and elk being put on the ESA list) down the road is to kill a certain percentage of the wolf population from the air. The reason this is so is because, while its not very sporting or idyllic, its the most reliable and efficient method of managing predator species populations.

And AlbertaHunter, you've got your eyes open, and you're seeing things the way they really are. I don't know so much about the rest of you though. And William and Patrick, you guys are missing the point. If we can have our cake and eat it too (reduce wolf numbers and increase deer, elk and moose numbers), why shouldn't we? It is possible for us to so manage wolves and big game species so that we can have high enough game populations to sustain wolf and human predation on them. Why then would we reduce our opportunities by allowing wolves to run rampant and over-eat, decimating deer, elk and moose populations?

The cold truth is that, for the sakes of big game species, wolves and for ourselves alike, we need to go ahead and take the hit and look like the bad guys, or our sport-hunting heritage surely will become obsolete and available to only a lucky and/or privaleged elite.


People need to learn to seperate wildlife management and hunting.
Shooting wolves from a plane is not HUNTING it is MANAGEMENT!
The Alaska Fish and Game employees went to school to learn about WILDLIFE MANAGMENT, how about letting them do their job. Do you think they might know a little more about wildlife management then us???
And calling the sharpshooter who are shooting the wolves from the plane cowards is childish and ignorant! Do you really think that shooting these wolves makes them get off or feel like big tough guys? Get a grip use some common sense and learn to seperate HUNTING from MANAGEMENT.


Both sides make some good points.


Ethan- isn't your statement "the only way to effectively control predator populations is by predator management" redundant and really doesn't say anything? Also, wolves will not naturally run rampant and eat a game species into the EPA listing as you said would happen. Humans are the only beings in recorded history to have ever decimitated a species enough to put them on an endangered species list or outright made a species become extinct. The nature of the predator/prey link is that in a natural ecosystem there are ebbs and flows. Predators will be more successful some years and prey will be more successful on other years. Wolves will starve off if they eat too much and in the following years other game animal prey will flourish. So it is a fallacy to say that wolves will not manage their own game numbers because this is precisely what a predator prey dynamic is doing. I believe in the biological world this is referred to as Malthusian dynamics although I'm a bit rusty on the subject. I realize that sterilization is not logistically feasible in man hours and labor but my point is that the board member made an outright untrue blanket statement as there are in fact many other options than one he listed. I believe the whole issue is political because they see the moose and carribou populations as having more instrinsic value to Alaska than the wolf by bringing money through hunting and the associated tourism. It seems like they just want more game populations so they can make more income after a year of shrinking income.


I agree with you. Well said.
"The nature of the predator/prey link is that in a natural ecosystem there are ebbs and flows. Predators will be more successful some years and prey will be more successful on other years. Wolves will starve off if they eat too much and in the following years other game animal prey will flourish."


Humans Cannot replace nature.... we have screwed it up enough and some STILL adhere to some falacy / romantic idea of "Predator Control" "Game Management" both are a Hoax. It seems finally that other hunters are talking on a more real world / scientific / fact based approach to game mangement. But I am afraid by the time the Red Neck mentality receeds into the dark abyss it belongs it will be to late.


I'm sure Alaska F&W employees went to school to study biology or some related topic. Yes, they know more than me. But, how come the other 49 states and Canada don't hunt predators to increase prey species numbers? I have to assume that Canada would be faced with the same problem as Alaska, are they shooting wolves from helicopters in the Yukon territory?

F&W departments can become politicized or money hungry. I'm from NJ, I know ;-)

Alaskan wolves will not decimate Alaskan caribou herds. Eliminating predators can have risks too. What if deer populations expand due to lack of predators? In Maine, this is happening and deer parasites are decimating moose populations.


Wolves can absolutely decimate the prey stocks. Forget about culling old and sick, think YOUNG. No calves means no replacement prey. If the prey stocks crash, the wolf population could be decimated to the point they were in the lower 48. The cycle is both ebb and flow, as well as boom/bust. Culling the wolves to prevent a prey population crash can absolutely make sense. As for shooting them from planes, it breaks my heart. On the other hand the success rate of trying to shoot them from the ground in remote areas is about zero. Give the F&G guys a break, they're the wildlife biologists here.

Honestly, the folks filing lawsuits are the same ones who are so gung ho about stamping out each and every wildfire. Think about fire suppression versus fire management and controlled burning to prevent fuel build up. Wolves are beautiful creatures that it's easy to romanticize, but the point is the same: management of the whole ecosystem in a sustainable fashion.


Before I say anything, where is the proof that predator population is out of control? Even without proof, I can logically conclude that unless a a new predator is brought from a distant land (IE, Bull Frogs), the original predator's population would correlate to the prey's population. A natural balance is always maintained.

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