The slaughters of wolves, bears, and other wildlife in both Alaska and the Northern Rockies, is against all scientifically supported wildlife management, and damages our ecology irreparably. The aerial gunning being used for these slaughters is well known to wildlife scientists and workers as "canned hunting", and is extraordinarily cruel. This atrocity is being openly funded by Safari Club International, known primarily for its association to all forms of "canned hunting". Certainly wolves will be extinct in the lower 48, following awful genetic damage, if current plans aren't stopped completely. The loss of species known as top predators, creates profound and far reaching damage, for other wildlife and surrounding ecologies; qualified specialists, while representing a united front against this atrocity, are concerned about the destruction of crucial American ecologies in their entirety as well. That top predators are generally the most glamorized animals, and are endangered now, is the reason for Safari Club International's unusually open aggression, in "trophy" seeking. A united front of wildlife scientists and the world's most highly regarded wildlife and environmental non-profit organizations, has tried to tell us that the only rationale provided for this barbarism is entirely unsupported by available data, and dangerous as well. Yet we're allowing this American nightmare to continue, making a "canned hunt" of our nation and its most cherished and representative species, presenting complete irrationality and irreversible stains of terrible shame, before the world. Apathy and gullibility are no longer options for Americans; we have to demand accountability and respect for our values.
- U.S. Senate
We’re writing because of our profound concern about the mass slaughter of wolves in Alaska, and those planned in the Northern Rockies; aerial gunning has been illegal since 1972, and the claims used to evade the law are in opposition to all available data and scientifically supported wildlife management. Neither were they intended seriously, as former Governor Palin has been documented in complaining about wildlife conservation in many unrelated contexts, e.g., as a threat to gas and oil interests.
Aerial gunning is an exceptionally cruel practice, being used against mothers and cubs in their dens. Wolves are chased by aircraft until they collapse from exhaustion, and have been documented vomiting due to terror and stress when forced to run from aerial assault; when they collapse, usually wounded, the aircraft land, if they can’t finish killing them at point blank range otherwise. Wounded wolves also suffer in the extreme before dying, if they manage to collapse where difficult to reach. Aerial gunning is known to wildlife scientists and workers as one form of “canned hunting”.
Alaska is also using aerial gunning against bears, also during denning and birth season. It’s well established that aerial gunning is only done for the benefit of “trophy” hunters, even though many hunters oppose it. Safari Club International, known primarily for its association to “canned hunting”, has funded the current slaughters and the fight against litigation to stop them, by a united front of the world’s most highly regarded environmental and wildlife non-profits. Safari Club International is comprised primarily of urban and out of state “trophy” hunters, and is a very wealthy special interest group. Private aircraft are commonly used, with wolves’ corpses often displayed on the aircraft.
Most of our wolves are in Alaska, but their numbers are low there; the possibility of extinction of all wolves in our country is very real, and far too near. States in which wolf populations are much smaller, and only remain because of historic reintroduction from Canada in 1995, are planning to use aerial gunning against them, according to plans that will ensure their extinction in the lower 48 states, after a brief period of genetic damage, for obvious reasons. The low numbers of wolves there now, make them clearly endangered, and their premature delisting from ESA protections, for the second time by Secretary Salazar, persisting in an awful Bush era decision, is a reversal of President Obama’s stay against their delisting, and a violation of one of the Obama Administration’s key promises.
In addition to having no legitimate rationale, or serious attempt to pretend any, this destruction of our wolf population is extraordinarily damaging to the larger ecology, in which wolves have a very crucial and complex role. Their reintroduction has already benefitted our ecologies beyond measure, including in other wildlife becoming more prominent and growth that had been presumed lost reappearing. Wolf and bear management must be done by qualified, ecologically intelligent people. Only 1/10th of a percentage point of livestock loss is related to wolf encounters, and extensive programs to support ranchers’ relations with wolves are in place. Of course wolves have rarely killed humans throughout our nation’s history, and no healthy wolf ever has.
As a species known to wildlife specialists as a top predator, and keystone or umbrella species, the loss of wolf populations causes immeasurably profound and extensive damage, to other wildlife and surrounding ecologies. They’re now endangered in areas that are certainly among our most precious national heritage, as some of the most beautiful and ecologically wealthy places on Earth. Our nation is deeply impoverished by this cruel and irrational practice, and certainly disgraced.
The former Governor of Alaska’s personally appointed Alaska Board of Game, supports this savage practice in spite of overwhelming opposition from Alaskan voters. This is also in strenuous opposition to National Research Council recommendations, and a united front of qualified scientists; Alaska Wildlife Troopers have also presented strong opposition to this barbarism, and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is concerned about risks to humans, in outdoor activity areas at their peak season, due to the extensiveness of the slaughters, inclusion of amateurs, and their non-seasonal ongoing basis. Alaska is also using snares and poison gas, including in dens, and at the mouth of dens, against pups and mothers during the birthing season, both practices being unprecedented in any context, because of their extreme cruelty, in Alaska’s history. This is against both wolves and bears, as well as other wildlife. As with aerial gunning, these victims are frequently skinned and butchered in plain sight, for “trophies”. Now we face exactly the same scenario in the Northern Rockies, funded by exactly the same special interests.
Legislation introduced in the House of Representatives to address loopholes in the 1972 law and end this nightmare, H.R. 3663, from Representative George Miller and co-sponsored by 129 members of Congress, has become stalled in committee, since October of 2008. Our best hope now, is that the Senate will address this ongoing tragedy, fully and leaving no room for more flaunting of the American people’s overwhelmingly expressed values and the rule of law.
Time is very important, of course. Please do everything you can, to stop this American tragedy and support our genuine needs and values.
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