I found this post lurking among my drafts. It was originally written April 24. I don’t know why I didn’t publish it then:
The Anchorage Daily News reported last month that two collared wolves had been killed in Alaska — knowingly, it seems. Ah, those crazy Alaskan hunters, getting carried away with their sport again. Don’t they understand a collared animal is being studied by someone, for the benefit of everyone? I wonder if these two wolves were shot from a plane. They do that in Alaska, you know. Hey, it’s sporting. I’ve heard it’s damn difficult to get off a good shot from the air. But they get around that with land-and-shoot (run ’em half to death with a plane, then land and shoot the exhausted animals). Yep, that’s a lot more sporting.
Actually, I came across that story because I’d gone looking for a local (to Alaska) story about a woman there recently being killed by wolves. New to Alaska, she was out jogging alone along a remote road. (That’s never smart, but in the Alaskan wilderness, it’s seriously unwise.) Autopsy results showed she was indeed killed by wolves, and hunters have since killed the two suspected wolves. In this case, yes, the guilty animals should be killed. Can’t have wild animals getting the idea they can dine on humans instead of running down caribou.
I haven’t read of any connection between the two stories, but they do show that wolf incidents are ongoing news in Alaska. That’s entirely understandable.
More interesting to me was an old (1994) graduate paper I found that summarized the wolf hunting issue in Alaska. (The basic ideas have some relevance in the Lower 48 as well.) It’s easy to make the case for either side and hard as hell to find an acceptable compromise. But until that happens, a race to exterminate the species, which continues today, is clearly inappropriate.
Personally, I’d love to see Alaskans take to heart their role as conservators of America’s last great expanse of wilderness. There’s no great financial gain in doing so, but their descendants and mine will be forever grateful.