Courtesy of Alaska Dispatch
by Rick Sinnot
Near the end of the movie “Season of the Witch,” a small band of medieval adventurers is surrounded by howling wolves. The monk says, “Wolves.” Another character asks, “What’ll we do?” Nicolas Cage, playing a knight in tarnished armor, says, “Kill as many as you can.”
Welcome to wildlife management as it is currently practiced in Alaska. Not so different from the way it was practiced in the Middle Ages.
I am not opposed to reducing numbers of wolves to increase numbers of prey animals — wolf control — so long as wolves constitute a serious problem and the program is scientifically justified, temporary and cost effective. Wolf control for the sake of killing wolves is none of the above.
This week, in Barrow, the northernmost city in the United States, the Alaska Board of Game was scheduled to consider wolf control proposals for two game management units on the Kenai Peninsula: 15A and 15C.
Why was the board considering wolf control plans for the Kenai Peninsula at a meeting in Barrow?
When the board adopts a predator control plan, it takes 60 days before a program can be implemented. Ted Spraker, a board member from the Kenai Peninsula, was bound and determined to start shooting Kenai wolves this winter. But the board tabled both proposals until their Anchorage meeting, scheduled Jan. 13-18, 2012.
Board members, including Spraker, found serious flaws in the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s documentation and expressed concern that a required feasibility plan wasn’t completed before the meeting.
Now most Alaskans wouldn’t get a chance until next year to examine the reasons why the department believes wolf control is justified on the Kenai Peninsula. The reasons are not persuasive.