Aerial Wolf-Killing

Today, Alaska Superior Court Judge Bill Morse will preside over an injunction hearing that should be an unintentional comedy goldmine -- if rather darkly-humored gold. ...
by | March 30, 2007
 

Wolf Today, Alaska Superior Court Judge Bill Morse will preside over an injunction hearing that should be an unintentional comedy goldmine -- if rather darkly-humored gold.

The issue at stake is whether the Department of Game and Fish can pay small plane pilots $150 apiece for wolves' left forelegs. The state wants the wolves dead in order to prevent overpopulation and wants the legs for scientific research -- very sinister research, we can only imagine.

"Posh!" cry the Defenders of Wildlife, the Alaska Wildlife Alliance and the Alaska Chapter of the Sierra Club.  These suit-filing groups contend that the state wants the legs as proof of kill and that any "payment for research purposes" claims are meant to evade the state's anti-bounty law.

Alaska finds itself caught among competing good intentions. Wolf overpopulation would harm moose population. An anti-bounty law sounds nice, but without incentive to shoot, pilots won't help control the population. The pilots are needed because shooting animals from helicopters is also against the law--perhaps chopper gundowns, like euthanasia for humans, raise the "too efficient for good taste" problem.

In trying to balance these competing concerns, the state has handcuffed itself in cross-purposed regulations. And this only covers wolves and moose. What about more nuanced ecological networks?

If a butterfly flaps its wings in Fairbanks, what does Juneau do for ants in Anchorage or bacteria on the Bering?

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Will Wilson  |  Former Correspondent
willbwilson@gmail.com

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