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An Inconvenient Wolf
August 29, 2008 7:34 PM   Subscribe

Enemy of the State. Wolves in Alaska are gunned down from the air for cash bounties, their orphaned pups often discovered by agency biologists in the field and killed. Alaskans soon vote on proposition 2 to stop the controversial slaughter that serves the interests of large game hunters.
posted by Brian B. (30 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
They should shoot polar bears, instead. That would make Palin happy.
posted by billysumday at 7:54 PM on August 29, 2008


(I know, I know, she doesn't really advocate killing polar bears...)
posted by billysumday at 7:55 PM on August 29, 2008


Isle Royal (Michigan): this summer the Isle Royal Wolf and Moose study celebrated its 50th anniversary. Currently the longest running predator-prey study out there. 07-08 report (PDF)
posted by acro at 7:56 PM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


They should shoot polar bears, instead. That would make Palin happy.

And they shoot plenty of bears too in the same sweep, mostly wolves though. And, for the curious, there are similar aerial extermination campaigns in the lower 48 that target coyotes, but for the ranchers.
posted by Brian B. at 7:56 PM on August 29, 2008


Too bad we already voted. Proposition 2 failed.
posted by timelord at 8:04 PM on August 29, 2008


Uh, the vote is over. The ballot measure failed.
posted by Hello Dad, I'm in Jail at 8:11 PM on August 29, 2008


Too bad we already voted. Proposition 2 failed.

My apologies.

Confusion surrounded the “predator control” initiative as well. Some who voted no on Measure 2 thought they were banning the practice, when in fact it took a yes vote to stop private hunters from gunning wolves and bears from the air.

Measure 2 may have gone down to defeat anyway, as urban hunters astutely made allies with rural Natives, even though the two camps have spent years battling over subsistence hunting rights. A spate of bear attacks in the state’s largest city might have helped quell voters’ sympathies for the animals being targeted by aerial hunters.


There's the last eight years in a nutshell.
posted by Brian B. at 8:15 PM on August 29, 2008


There were aerial bear attacks?

Wow. I'd have voted to kill them, too.
posted by yhbc at 8:25 PM on August 29, 2008 [3 favorites]


"They should shoot polar bears, instead. That would make Palin happy."

It would also make Stephen Colbert happy. I pass no judgment on whether that is a positive or a negative.
posted by An Infinity Of Monkeys at 8:50 PM on August 29, 2008


I'd sooner, except the penalties, kill a man than a hawk wolf.
posted by homunculus at 9:08 PM on August 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


They should shoot polar bears, instead. That would make Palin happy.

Killing wolves already makes Palin happy. When Alaskans voted to ban the practice of aerial hunting, she increased it, instead, offering hunters a bounty on wolf kills. She also spent nearly a half million dollars of state money on television commercials urging people to vote against Proposition 2. Palin's record on wildlife management isn't just incompetent—which should probably be expected from someone who doesn't believe in science—it's downright fucking vindictive.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:58 PM on August 29, 2008 [3 favorites]


Isle Royal (Michigan): this summer the Isle Royal Wolf and Moose study celebrated its 50th anniversary. Currently the longest running predator-prey study out there. 07-08 report (PDF)

Super cool place. I spent a week on Isle Royal with a camp I went to. Great memories. Never saw a single wolf or moose though.
posted by Mr_Zero at 10:16 PM on August 29, 2008


What a tragedy.

I know it is the Bible-thumper crowd who are some of the worst offenders on this type of shit, and it just boggles my mind. I mean, if you think the whole world and everything on it is just a relatively random co-incidence, then protecting and preserving isn't particularly important. But if it is God's own Creation, His resplendent Majesty laid fresh, with Humanity serving as His stewards...I mean, if that is what you think, how can you do such a shitty ass job stewarding?
posted by paisley henosis at 10:45 PM on August 29, 2008 [5 favorites]


But if it is God's own Creation, His resplendent Majesty laid fresh, with Humanity serving as His stewards...I mean, if that is what you think, how can you do such a shitty ass job stewarding?

They often use the analogy of a gift, like the earth is this present that God gave to mankind, to which I like to counter, "If someone gives you a really nice gift, don't you usually take care of it in case they decide to come over some time? I mean, somebody gives you an original Da Vinci painting, you don't fold it up and use it as a grocery list, right?"
posted by infinitywaltz at 10:50 PM on August 29, 2008 [7 favorites]


There are almost no American citizens to staff the concession stands, so all the seasonal (non parks) employees are European guest workers... perhaps it's the mandatory drug testing for the snack bar staff...
posted by acro at 10:51 PM on August 29, 2008


There are almost no American citizens to staff the concession stands, so all the seasonal (non parks) employees are European guest workers... perhaps it's the mandatory drug testing for the snack bar staff...

Yeah! Wait, what?
posted by infinitywaltz at 10:52 PM on August 29, 2008


They often use the analogy of a gift, like the earth is this present that God gave to mankind, to which I like to counter, "If someone gives you a really nice gift, don't you usually take care of it in case they decide to come over some time? I mean, somebody gives you an original Da Vinci painting, you don't fold it up and use it as a grocery list, right?"

Yeah, I've heard those arguments, and, well, exactly what you said.

The whole "gift from God" thing just makes the pillage of the environment an order of magnitude worse, to me. I mean, what are they going to do for an encore, use the Ark of the Covenant to keep the beer cold, until the label turns blue?
posted by paisley henosis at 11:13 PM on August 29, 2008


"Sport" hunting has always galled me; no matter how large a population of a given species, life doesn't exist to be picked off just for sport. I have no problem with a hunter who takes an animal for sustenance, but I can't abide a person killing an animal to display or brag about.

This kind of extermination is worse - it's utterly indefensible, not to mention preventable. These are wolves, born to be wolves, doing the normal, natural things wolves do, being eliminated because they compete with one potential aspect of Alaska tourism. Nevermind that these are predators near the top of the food chain in one of the more difficult global environments. Nevermind that "biologists" are shooting puppies in the head as an ostensibly humanitarian act (remember, the pups can't survive sans parents!) because the Alaskan government has made hunting wolves a profitable endeavor.

I don't want to come off all PETA here, but in this kind of instance, I find myself imagining a parallel: a hunter accidentally shot for trespassing on the wrong property. There'd be the requisite "he was only trying to provide for his family" on one side, where the other would paint him as a dangerous invader with the potential to do anything. Even in that case, the kids wouldn't be gunned down, though...
posted by Graygorey at 12:01 AM on August 30, 2008


kind of a 21st century equivalent of shooting buffalo and passenger pigeons from trains. Same goddamn mentality.

And McCain wants this bin to be VP? Fuck that shit.
posted by edgeways at 12:34 AM on August 30, 2008


There were aerial bear attacks?
From the late 1940s until the early 1970s guides in Alaska took their clients sport hunting for polar bears from airplanes. At times the planes were used to herd the bears towards the waiting hunters.
posted by tellurian at 2:46 AM on August 30, 2008


I know it is the Bible-thumper crowd who are some of the worst offenders on this type of shit, and it just boggles my mind. I mean, if you think the whole world and everything on it is just a relatively random co-incidence, then protecting and preserving isn't particularly important. But if it is God's own Creation, His resplendent Majesty laid fresh, with Humanity serving as His stewards...I mean, if that is what you think, how can you do such a shitty ass job stewarding?
For the people that you're describing, I think that your claim that they see (or even should see, based on the tenets of their religion) themselves as "stewards" of nature is ill-founded.

The Bible does not claim that their god told them to be stewards over nature. It claims that their god told them that they have dominion over nature, and to subdue it:
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
That's from the very first chapter of the very first book of the Bible. Right off the bat, their god told them, in no uncertain terms, that they had supreme, absolute authority over nature.

Ann Coulter has summed up this supposedly rightful relationship between man and his environment as this:
God gave us the earth. We have dominion over the plants, the animals, the trees. God said, "Earth is yours. Take it. Rape it. It's yours."
As repugnant as that attitude is, it does not strike me as an inaccurate representation of what the Bible actually says. And it's certainly not as inaccurate as "stewardship".
posted by Flunkie at 2:46 AM on August 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Sadly, I believe that humans, as a species, deserve every (apparently imminent) consequence of what humans have done and are still doing to this planet and its lifeforms.

On the "dominion" question: Yesterday, I had to help my wife deal with getting her father to the VA hospital in Birmingham, AL. While I was waiting around for them to finish up, I found the Jehovah's witness publication Awake! - but this was some kind of special environmental issue. I'll read anything, so I picked it up with a smirk and just knew what I'd find inside. I was wrong. It had some very simplistic but fairly forceful instructions stating that we humans should take very good care of the environment and that we should treat animals very, very well. There was a lot of mention of the special warmth and emotion humans and animals can share.

I'm an atheist and don't agree with their doctrines in any way. But it was hard to find serious fault with their attitude toward our planet's natural environment. You can see some of what I was reading here and then judge for yourself.
posted by loosemouth at 3:31 AM on August 30, 2008


I'm sorry to hear about your father-in-law but I must say that using hospital waiting room magazines to help you form your opinions may lead you astray.

But it was hard to find serious fault with their attitude toward our planet's natural environment.

From your link:
Job was stumped when God asked him about wild animals. (Job 39:1-8) No human can protect the mountain goats and the hinds, or female deer. Why, it is hard even to get near mountain goats! (Psalm 104:18) It is by God-given instinct that a hind secludes herself in the forest when about to give birth. She gives her young proper care, but when they “become robust,” they “go forth and do not return.” Then they are on their own.
'They are on their own' and then we are going to round them up with planes and slaughter them from the air.
posted by tellurian at 8:06 AM on August 30, 2008


'Concessions' at the national parks are contracted out.; Isle Royal concessioning is done by Forever Resorts. When I stayed at the Rock Harbor Lodge this summer during the 50th anneversary events, I'd estimate 3/5 of the staff I talked to were from Eastern Europe, in the U.S. on working visas. (The drug testing theory was from a manager there).
posted by acro at 12:19 PM on August 30, 2008


loosemouth, you seem to think that I was saying that all Christians are like Ann Coulter, or something like that. I was not.

I'm well aware that Christianity is not a monolithic bloc, and that different Christians believe a wide variety of differing things. Many of them believe that their god wants them to be stewards of nature, and that's great.

It's just not backed up by what their holy book actually says, or at least not to the clear and explicit level that Coulter's "rape the earth" is backed up by what their holy book actually says.

Do I prefer those Christians who like to believe they are stewards, rather than despots, over nature? Yes, of course, absolutely, by far, regardless of the fact that their holy book tells them that they are despots.
posted by Flunkie at 1:53 PM on August 30, 2008


Do I prefer those Christians who like to believe they are stewards, rather than despots, over nature? Yes, of course, absolutely, by far, regardless of the fact that their holy book tells them that they are despots.

Stewardship versus dominion is an interesting discussion, on the order of master/slave. On one hand, stewardship comes at it from a service perspective, assuming some sort of moral restraint that isn't perceived as a scientific truth. Dominion, on the other hand, pretends to have crushing control in a form of dictatorship and conquering windfall. The fact that most Christians would interpret dominion as win-lose is a real concern, because we are part of nature and we only fool ourselves thinking we can get away with anything. In the old days, kings preserved nature, and considered the regulation of lands a noble duty informed by insight and reason available to a king. However, when a slave interprets dominion, they often project their flight from responsibility into the equation. But we aren't aliens who can leave at will, we can't get away with killing the goose that lays the gold, so we're discussing a dissociative mental disorder down that road.
posted by Brian B. at 8:53 AM on August 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ahh, mankind's legacy: "If it moves, kill it."

Also, holy shit does the Bible have a lot to answer for.
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:53 PM on August 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


One of the things I find most offensive about the advocates of wolf-kills is that they're either liars, stupid, or both, since they almost always make the argument that they're killing wolves to protect caribou herds.

Here's the thing: Wolves can't deplete a healthy caribou population. They don't run fast enough to take down healthy adult caribou, and adult caribou in a group (which is where you'll find most of the young ones) are dangerous enough that wolves won't take them on. Unless times are super hard, wolves will generally only attack prey they can kill without injury to any member of the pack. To do otherwise would be maladaptive.

So to say that wolves deplete caribou herds is utter nonsense. Yes as far as I can see, this almost never gets called out by opponents.
posted by lodurr at 11:39 AM on September 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


It Has Come To This: Why Working Americans Love Sarah Palin
posted by homunculus at 11:37 PM on September 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


With a disdain for science that alarms wildlife experts, Sarah Palin continues to promote Alaska's policy to gun down wolves from planes.
posted by homunculus at 7:51 PM on September 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


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