Alaska halts wolf-killing; FRIENDS OF ANIMALS VIDEO SHOCKS WORLD; FURRIERS FRET OVER SNARING EXPOSURE

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, Jan/Feb 1995:

ANCHORAGE––The latest Alaskan war against wolves officially ended
December 12, as Alaska Department of Fish and Game staff reportedly finished removing
683 snares set in October from a 1,000-square-mile “game management unit” southwest of
Fairbanks. A dozen dead wolves were retrieved, as well, bringing the winter toll to 36 and
the count since the snaring campaign began in October 1993 to 130.
Admitting that the snares were not monitored often––Alaska has no trap-checking
requirement––the ADFG said it was uncertain if the last 12 wolves were caught before or
after Alaska Fish and Game Commissioner Carl Rosier halted the killing on December 1. It
was certain, however, that they died painful and probably lingering deaths. Rosier acted
under pressure from governor-elect Tony Knowles, who pledged November 30 that he would

stop the killing himself by executive order
immediately after his inauguration on
December 5. Facing firing, outspoken foe of
wolves David “Machine-gun” Kelleyhouse
had already resigned as ADFG director of
wildlife conservation the previous week,
effective December 5, to return to his former
post as a staff biologist.
The wolf policy turnabout came just
19 days after the Alaska Board of Game voted
to expand the killing zone and up the quota
from 150, unmet last year, to 175.
Begun by outgoing governor Walter
Hickel to make more moose and caribou avail-
able to human hunters, the scheduled 36-
month state drive to kill 75% of the wolves in
so-called Game Management Unit 20-A was
stopped after 14 months by 40 minutes of dra-
matic close-range videotape taken November
29 near Moody Creek by independent wildlife
biologist Gordon Haber, who was working
under contract to Friends of Animals, the
Alaskan Wildlife Alliance, and Wolf Haven
International. The videotape showed three
severely injured wolves including two cubs
struggling in snares, one of them hanging in
midair and another having stripped the flesh
off her thigh in attempting to escape. The
video also showed ADFG trapper Ed Crane
shooting the first wolf in the head point-blank
five times over a 20-minute interval––four
times with the wrong ammunition––before
dispatching her. Parts of the video aired November 30 on
NBC TV news, and were aired by the other major networks
the following day.
Haber did the videotaping in company of
Anchorage Daily News reporter Steve Rinehart and a D a i l y
N e w s photographer, who returned to the site with him in a
helicopter after Haber, overflying the area in a fixed-wing
aircraft, spotted one apparently comatose wolf in a state-set
snare near the remains of two caribou who were apparently
snared accidentally.
As the video documents, the three men found three
wolves caught plus five more, who fled human approach,
apparently trying to help them. The wolves were believed to
be the last survivors of the Yannert pack, whose 20 members
before the killing began were known to roam in and out of
Denali National Park. Forbidden by law from interfering with
the snares and caught wolves in any way, Haber radioed to
the ADFG that the wolves were suffering. Crane came about
20 minutes later, unsuccessfully attempting to evict Haber
and the Daily News crew from the site to avoid “stressing the
wolves,” before trying to put the wolves out of their misery.
Knowing the video would have a heavy impact, as
emphatic evidence of the suffering of animals in snares,
Haber personally took it to Anchorage for replication and dis-
tribution. Stopping briefly in Fairbanks en route, he asked
bush pilot Tom Classen to notify FoA president Priscilla
Feral, who put her whole office staff to work alerting media.
ANIMAL PEOPLE, at Feral’s urgent request, on short
notice ghosted a release giving the factual essentials. Faxed
to all networks and major newspapers while Haber was still
en route to Anchorage, the notice, by insuring media were
watching from the moment Haber landed, helped protect
Haber and the video itself against any attempted interception.
As Haber and Feral immediately recognized, the
video raises issues going far beyond the Alaskan wolf killing
program; in showing the outcome of techniques used by fur
trappers around the world, the video irrefutably indicts trap-
ping and snaring for any purpose. Fumed former Alaska
Board of Game chair Doug Pope in the December 9 edition of
the Anchorage Daily News, “Public outcry about state-spon-
sored trapping of wolves could doom trapping as well as wolf
control. Let’s get one thing straight about trapline life,” he
continued. “It’s brutal. Every animal caught in a snare by the
leg will try to gnaw its leg off to get away, so animals will
suffer when you set out a lot of snares.” Blaming Hickel and
the current Board of Game for going ahead with snaring
while under humane scrutiny, Pope continued, “The pre-
dictable has happened, and the scapegoating has begun.
Now it is going to be even more difficult to justify wolf con-
trol even in an emergency, but the more immediate reaction
is going to be in the marketplace for furs.” He predicted that
the Friends of Animals video would send the already weak
Alaskan fur market into “free fall.”
Governor Knowles on December 21 assigned
Alaska public safety commissioner Ron Otte to investigate
the specific incident Haber videotaped, preliminary to a com-
prehensive review of the entire wolf-killing program, tenta-
tively expected to start in mid-January.
“FoA does field work.”
Halting the wolf killing was FoA’s second major
victory in 15 days. On November 15, at the triennial meet-
ing of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered
Species, FoA support for anti-poaching efforts in 10 impov-
erished west African nations paid off when together with four
other African nations, they obliged South Africa to withdraw
a proposal to remove elephants from Appendix I protection.
The move would have reopened the international traffic in
elephant parts, closed by CITES in 1989 after elephants were
poached to the verge of extinction over much of their range.
Primarily Primates president Wally Swett, for one,
was not surprised that FoA, a relatively small group,
achieved two big successes where bigger and richer groups
backed away. “I’ve always admired Priscilla Feral,” Swett
said, “because she does field work. A lot of the big groups
do quick hits on whatever’s fashionable, take the credit, and
mail out an appeal, but Priscilla takes on issues that aren’t
necessarily popular, sticks with them, and puts money into
developing a base. I’ve always respected her immensely
because the first question she asks is always, ‘What can we
do?’, not ‘How can we make money out of this?’”
The just-ended Alaskan anti-wolf campaign was
announced on November 18, 1992. ANIMAL PEOPLE
alerted the animal protection community and major media
overnight via fax, then went to press with the details a few
hours later. Initially, Alaska Fish and Game staffers were to
strafe wolves from aircraft. FoA immediately called a boy-
cott of Alaskan tourism, joined over the next month by many
other animal and habitat protection groups. The pressure
obliged then-governor Walter Hickel, who favored the wolf
killing, to postpone the plan, while Rosier announced that
wolves would not be strafed after all.
When the furor waned, the Board of Game institut-
ed snaring instead of strafing, and redefined the technique of
spotting wolves from aircraft, then shooting them on the
ground, as “trapping,” to avoid violating the federal
Airborne Hunting Act of 1974. The Alaska legislature mean-
while required the ADFG to kill predators before reducing
either bag limits or the length of hunting seasons. These mea-
sures, still in effect, enabled private hunters and trappers to
kill 1,472 wolves last winter, the most in 16 years.
Although several bigger groups raised funds in
response to the impending wolf massacre, only FoA contin-
ued to put money into trying stop it, spending more than
$125,000 over the past two years to enable Haber to do con-
tinuous aerial surveilance of the killing zone. The Alaska
Wildlife Alliance and Wolf Haven International provided
logistic support.
In 1993 and early 1994, Haber established that the
wolf population of the killing zone was far below the ADFG
estimate; that although moose and caribou hunting there has
been closed since 1991, the herds wander into adjoining areas
where both legal hunting and poaching are intense; and that
the most aggressive predators of caribou calves in the region
are not wolves but protected eagles.
But outside Alaska, only ANIMAL PEOPLE and
the FoA magazine ActionLine took notice––until Haber’s
video made the case against the killing incontrovertible.
Wolf notes:
As ANIMAL PEOPLE went to press, the sched-
uled January reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone
National Park awaited a Wyoming federal district court judge
William Downes’ decision as to whether it should be blocked
by a preliminary injunction pending hearing of a last-ditch
lawsuit filed against the plan by the American Farm Bureau
on behalf of ranchers, who have opposed the reintroduction
through two decades, 120 public hearings, directives from
six different presidents, and $12 million worth of studies.
Government hunters and trappers extirpated wolves from
Yellowstone and the surrounding region on behalf of ranchers
more than 60 years ago. While the reintroduction debate has
raged, some wolves have apparently wandered into
Yellowstone from Canada on their own. On November 12 the
Department of the Interior released the names of more than
200 people who claim to have seen wolves in Yellowstone.
There were 24 reported sightings in 1991, increasing to 180
by 1993. If the reintroduction gets the go-ahead, 30 wolves
who have already been outfitted with radio transmitters will
be live-trapped in Alberta and British Columbia. Fifteen
wolves will then be released at each of two sites, the Alberta
wolves in Yellowstone itself and the rest in central Idaho.
The effort will be repeated each year until the population
grows to about 100, including 10 breeding pairs. Attrition of
about 50% among the translocated wolves is anticipated.
The People’s Daily, of Beijing, China, reported
on December 17 that soldiers stationed in the Taishan area of
Shandong province kidnapped three wolf cubs from their lair
on December 11 and took them back to their barracks as pets.
That night a pack of at least 10 wolves surrounded the bar-
racks and howled until the soldiers’ commanding officer
ordered that the cubs be returned. Afraid to face the wolves
themselves, the troops dispatched a sentry dog to carry the
cubs out, one by one, in her mouth. The adult wolves took
the cubs on home, while the sentry dog was unmolested.
The United Federation of Teachers’ H u m a n e
Education Committee’s January newsletter features wolf-relat-
ed classroom projects. Request copies from UFTHEC, 260
Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10010; 718-797-2925.
Donations to cover printing and postage are appreciated.
Yukon wolf-killing goes on
KLUANE –Begun at the same time as the just-
halted Alaskan wolf-killing, the Yukon’s wolf purge will
go on as scheduled for three more winters, Yukon renew-
able resources minister Mickey Fisher stated December 21.
Helicopter gunners have killed 94 wolves in the 7,722-
square-mile Aishihik region of the Yukon, adjacent to the
Kluane National Park World Heritage site, during the past
two winters. As in Alaska, the object of the killing is to
make more caribou available to hunters––and is rational-
ized as being for the benefit of indigenous people. But
again as in Alaska, the real issue isn’t meat.
“Big-game hunting outfitters are among the most
vocal promoters of the Yukon wolf-kill, for obvious rea-
sons,” fisheries technician Richard Mahoney pointed out a
year ago in the Seattle Times. “Both the territorial govern-
ment leader, John Ostashek, and his minister for renewable
resources, Bill Brewster, are former hunting outfitters.
The Champagne-Aishihik First Nation is another aggressive
proponent of the plan. Last but not least are horse owners
in the area, most of whom are outfitters or members of the
Champagne-Aishihik First Nation. Horses are central to the
issue. Horses are used primarily as pack and saddle animals
for big game hunting,” which accounts for about 25% of all
Yukon tourism. “At the end of the hunts, after months of
hard use, they are turned loose to fend for themselves on
the very spare Yukon range, which has snow cover from
October to May and winter temperatures to 50 degrees
below zero, and is 1,000 miles from the nearest hay field
worthy of the name. Wolves prey on these winter-starved
beasts, and attrition can be high, especially on replacement
stock brought up from more southerly pastures.”
Friends of Animals, the World Wildlife Fund
Canada, and Friends of the Wolf, among other groups,
have actively opposed the Yukon killing from inception,
but so far to little avail.
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