Alaska didn’t come close to killing the number of wolves it wanted. What a pity.
Weather, fuel costs favored the lives of hundreds of wolves. FEWER KILLS: State’s goal was 664 dead; reports put number at less than a third. By Alex deMarban. Anchorage Daily News.
At our North American wolf conference recently in Flagstaff, the Keynote Speaker was Dr. Victor Van Ballenberghe, a professor in Biology and Wildlife at the Univ. of Alaska. He has twice served on Alaska’s Board of Game. He explained the fundamental problem with the Board is their belief that the historical high populations of moose, caribou, etc. recorded in many areas of Alaska are the normal, usual and expected number. This problem is compounded by 1990s state legislation that mandates “intensive management” for certain “depleted” populations of ungulates deemed important for consumptive use by humans.
What the Board does is play on the natural sympathy for Native consumptive use in setting ungulate population targets, and then adds another generous portion for non-Native hunters.
These ungulate population targets are impossible to obtain. In an effort to do it anyway, the Board is now not only targeting wolves but black bears and brown bears over an increasing portion of Alaska (now 60,000 square miles).
Despite the reprieve for wolves this winter, the Alaskan campaign against all large predators is only going to get worse.