Hunters protesting protections for Denali wolves

By Sam Friedman / Fairbanks Daily News-Miner /

Published Aug 17, 2016 at 12:02AM

Tired of having their concerns not addressed by Alaska’s Board of Game, opponents of wolf hunting near Denali National Park sought the attention of Gov. Bill Walker recently with a protest in downtown Fairbanks.

About two dozen people assembled at noon outside the 7th Avenue state offices building. They held signs and periodically howled likes wolves, drawing puzzled looks from people headed into the building.

Their signs addressed Walker directly with words like “Gov. step up” and “Bill, it’s time to act.” One used Walker’s Tlingit name of Gooch Waak, which means “wolf eyes.”

The protesters want Walker to order an emergency closure for the wolf hunting season near Denali National Park. The season opened last week.

A Walker spokeswoman said that she hadn’t had a chance to ask the governor for a response to the protest, but that Walker planned to meet with one of the protesters during his visit to Fairbanks and the Tanana Valley State Fair.

Gray wolves roam abundantly through much of Alaska but in recent years have become much less common inside Denali National Park — one of the main places visitors come to Alaska to see them.

The protesters argue that to protect Denali’s natural ecosystem and reputation as a place to spot wolves, wolf hunting should be stopped along the Stampede Trail corridor, a peninsula of state-managed land that juts into the park northwest of Healy.

The state instituted a buffer zone in 2000 to prevent wolf hunting close to the park boundary, but the Alaska Board of Game repealed it in 2010.

Fairbanks-based organization Alaskans For Wildlife organized last week’s demonstration. The group has about 40 members around Alaska, according to its president, Jim Kowalsky, who has a long history in environmental advocacy as a founder of the Northern Alaska Environmental Center.

The group held the protest because the seven-member Board of Game has repeatedly voted down their requests for an emergency reintroduction of the wolf buffer zone. Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Sam Cotten has also rejected their demands for emergency wolf-hunting closures, with the exception of the spring 2015 season, which Cotten closed two weeks early.

Despite limited movement so far from the Walker administration, Kowalsky was somewhat optimistic that the demonstration would change policy.

The killing of wolves in a particularly famous wolf pack has given the buffer zone campaign fresh attention.

The East Fork Pack, also known as the Toklat Pack, has been the subject of National Park Service studies since the 1930s. The pack dropped from 14 wolves in March 2015 to perhaps zero in July 2016, according to the Park Service’s official narrative of the pack history. The agency attributes the loss of wolves to factors such as trapping, hunting, an animal attack — possibly from a golden eagle — and wolf dispersal to other areas. The Park Service study observed that the loss of the long-researched pack is “unfortunate” but that it doesn’t mean the loss of the pack’s lineage, which lives on in the descendants of East Fork pack that formed or joined other packs.

copyrighted wolf in water


6 thoughts on “Hunters protesting protections for Denali wolves

  1. End hunting, the recreational killing of wildlife. Hunting is additive, additional killing of wildlife not normal to wildlife ecology. Hunting leads to farming sporting targets and marginalization of predators normal to wildlife ecolology. Hunting results in a distortion and unhealthy wildlife ecology. Hunting is a barbaric, primitive behavior, not healthy for man or beast, biodiversity, the health of the planet, and is not sustainable.

    Many youth have already been indoctrinated into recreational killing of wildlife (aka hunting). Hunters look at wildlife as renewable recreational killing opportunities. They are usually ecology ignorant, not realizing, and in many cases not caring about the harm they do. They do not see their killing targets as sentient, and/or they do not care. They think it is good wholesome family fun. The outdoors sections of some newspapers are plastered with young killers of wildlife and their targets. It is a killing tradition they are proud of. Only about 6% of the population hunts, but the coverage by newspapers make it seem more and like a healthy activity. It is not healthy for man or wildlife or ecology.

    Wildlife recreational killing (aka hunting) is not healthy for the wild or man, and we are long past subsistence hunting, which the wild can no longer bear with so many humans (we are no longer small bands of hunters and gatherers). The wildlife agencies, who essentially work for hunters, trappers, fishermen, ranchers, should be revamped or fired, and agencies developed that focus on wildlife protection, balanced ecology, habitat acquisition, wildlife corridors, coexistence, conservation. Hunting leads to game farming in the wilderness and predator scapegoating and marginalization or extirpation. Hunting and trapping are inherently cruel and barbaric, time we evolved past them. Before hunters and trappers were somewhat regulated by hunting seasons and quotas and districts, they were wiping wildlife in America. Often now, the wildlife agencies are under pressure to continue hunting in an area, or a species, that should have some reprieve; or they scapegoat the predators rather than take responsibility for over hunting or over trapping or weighing other factors such as global warming, disease, forage, weather, human encroachment and all those factors impact on hunting and trapping. If we are to continue such barbarisms, they should always be for only an abundance of game with the first priorities going to natural (predators) having priority, balanced ecology, the health of the game in relation to the wildlife ecology. Wildlife agencies should not be “managing” wildlife for hunters and trappers. But it would be better to just end hunting and trapping in the national forests, refuges, parks and outside parks, wilderness, and public land in general. Before it is too late, the focus should be on rewilding of America in available areas and wildlife corridors connecting them. Hunting and trapping have had their day and represent a small minority. It is time for conservation and coexistence with wildlife.

    Wildlife recreational killing (aka hunting) is an industry and a tradition that has some benefits in regulating the hunting and preserving sporting targets, acquiring and preserving habitat, but it is a barbarous tradition that on the whole is not good for balanced wildlife ecology. It results in a distortion of wildlife ecology by farming sporting targets and marginalization of natural predators. Hunters often scapegoat predators in league with their bedfellows, the state wildlife agencies, who sell hunting and fishing licenses. Hunters only represent about 6% of the population. They mistakenly believe that they pay for wildlife conservation so are entitled to recreationally kill it. Actually, the general population pays for wildlife habitat and wildlife preservation, about 94%. Hunting is not good for wildlife, not good for wildlife ecology, not a wholesome activity. It is a barbaric tradition. Wildlife agencies should be reconstituted to protect wildlife ecology, habitat, the interest of the general public, and wilderness and wildlife enjoyment other than recreational killing.



    Posted on March 10, 2016

    Clint Eastwood Reflects on Dirty Harry – Gawker

    “I don’t go for hunting. I just don’t… – Anti-Hunting In America

    Killing Wolves: A Hunter-Led War Against Science and Wildlife
    Predator Defense – The USDA Wildlife Services’ War on … Predator Defense is working to reform the USDA Wildlife

  2. Did I get confused? The title seems to indicate something other than what the article states.
    I hope the group is successful in getting the begged reintroduced and banning the upcoming hunt.

  3. Oops, I must have misread also – I thought from the title it was the hunters complaining about their concerns not being addressed, which they always do too. Sorry! I am adamant about the wolves of Denali being left alone – I still have that article in my mind about the, you can’t even call him a hunter, baiting wolves with a killed horse outside the Park boundaries. How is this even allowed?

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