From ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 1993:

renewed bloody horror erupted in Haiti,
Borundi, Angola, Somalia, and the for-
mer Yugoslavia, snow softly covered the
woods of Wildlife Management Unit 20-A.
Then, with camera crews elsewhere and
wolf tracks visible, the trappers crept out
to their planes and unleashed the wolf mas-
sacre the world had awaited for over a
year. Leading the state-hired killers was
Daniel Grangaard, a multi-time convicted
“Public records indicate Gran-
gaard, the person placed in charge of the
state-funded wolf kill, has been convicted
of hunting without a license and illegal use
of game to bait traps,” confirmed Stephen
Wells of the Alaska Wildlife Alliance.

“It’s unbelievable. Here is a guy who has
repeatedly violated the state’s hunting and
trapping laws, and the Alaska Department
of Fish and Game makes him responsible
for one of their most sensitive and contro-
versial programs.”
But the Alaskan government
wanted ruthless stealth. Grangaard and a
partner killed 11 wolves before anyone
else knew they were in the bush. Even
after word of the killing leaked, on
November 1, it continued for weeks more
in virtual silence. Alaskan officials refused
to cooperate with journalists––especially
those packing camcorders. And without
assurance of being able to find dramatic
footage during the brief Alaskan late-fall
days, mainland-based networks weren’t
eager to fly crews into the area.
Struggling to break the silence,
Friends of Animals president Priscilla
Feral took time out in the midst of preparations for Fur Free Friday
and a local office relocation to visit the scene. Feral and FoA director
of operations Robert Orabona took turns overflying 20-A with bush
pilots; visited the site where the dead wolves are stored, pending
necropsy by state biologists; and reminded media that despite the
other atrocities going on in the world, wolves still matter as well.
Jeanne McVey of In Defense of Animals also rallied protest,
pledging to take a team of 20 observers to Alaska to help her docu-
ment the killing, details of which were deliberately kept scarce by
state officials.
Feral cracked the secrecy by filing repeated public informa-
tion act requests––including a November 4 supplemental request for
“the right to inspect the wolf carcasses,” or to have them inspected by
wolf expert Gordon Haber, to insure the accuracy of whatever the
state might say about them.
“We want to know their pack affiliations, their stomach
contents, whether they have radio collars, and how they died,” Feral
said. “We’re not going to be satisfied to be kept in the dark.”
May wipe out species in region
On November 17, when Feral and Orabona left Alaska, the
body count stood at 33. The state wants to kill 150 wolves in Unit 20-
A, from a population officially estimated at 266. Haber, the virtual
inventor of airborne wildlife surveying, puts the actual number of
wolves in 20-A at 90 to 120, based on observations during spring and
summer overflights sponsored by FoA and Wolf Haven International.
Of the first 18 wolves killed, Feral learned from Alaska
Department of Wildlife regional supervisor Chris Smith,
15––83%––were cubs under eight months old, weighing from 39 to
60 pounds. They appeared to have been caught primarily through the
use of multi-snare sets surrounding the remains of roadkilled caribou.
Many of the younger wolves were snared by the paws rather than the
neck, and struggled, suffering, for days before they were dispatched
by gunfire. According to Feral, Smith told her the wolves could not
be killed sooner because although the trappers were easily able to fly
into the killing zone to set their lines, high winds inhibited use of air-
craft during the first several days after pilots Smith didn’t identify
reported that wolves were caught.
Alaskan officials first announced they would kill wolves to
make trophy caribou and moose more plentiful in the region between
Fairbanks and Achorage back in November 1992. Initially the
wolves were to have been strafed from planes. The plan was backed
by Alaska governor Walter Hickel, but was shelved a month later
under pressure of an international tourism boycott. As the furor set-
tled, the Alaska Board of Game argued that the real reason for killing
wolves was not to placate sport hunters and hunting guides, but
rather to preserve herds whose numbers had fallen from artificial
highs to historic norms during the preceding decade, as wolves and
other predators recovered from previous annihilation efforts.
In late June the Board of Game approved a new wolf-killing
strategy: to redefine shooting wolves spotted from aircraft as trap-
ping, and permit anyone with a $15 trapping permit to do it, just so
long as he or she lands and walks at least 300 feet––half a city
block––before opening fire. The brief walk is to insure technical
compliance, if not compliance in spirit, with the 1973 federal
Airborne Hunting Act, the intent of which was to halt the common
Alaskan practice of chasing wolves to exhaustion with planes, then
shooting them where they fell.
Friends of Animals, the Fund for Animals, In Defense of
Animals, Earth First!, and numerous other groups reimposed the
tourism boycott after the current Board of Game strategy was adopted
at the end of June. Although receiving an average of more than 1,000
cards and letters of protest per day through September, the Hickel
administration gambled that the public would forget about the boycott
appeals by the beginning of the summer tourism reservation season,
in late November, and successfully gambled too that a bill by Oregon
Representative Peter DeFazio to strengthen the Airborne Hunting Act
would fizzle in Congress amid the attention focused on the North
American Free Trade Agreement, the Clinton administration plan for
universal health insurance, and the upcoming Endangered Species
Act reauthorization debate.
[Hickel may be addressed at POB 110001, Juneau, AK
99811. Alaska Division of Tourism director Connell Murray is at
POB 110801, Juneau, AK 99811-0801.]
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