Despite protests from the Friends of Animals over its wolf hunt last year that killed 144 wolves, Alaska plans to expand the aerial hunting of wolves this year.
Alaska’s initial aerial hunting program in 2003 resulted in 127 wolves killed in the Nelchina Basin and 17 in the McGrath area. The wolves were culled in order to allow moose populations in those areas to increase for hunting purposes. According to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, there are anywhere from 8,000 to 11,000 wolves in Alaska, and about 1,500 are killed annually by hunters and trappers.
This year, in addition to the Nelchina Basin and McGrath areas, the state will offer permits for the aerial shooting of wolves west of Cook Inlet and near Aniak as well. The state would like hunters to kill about 150 wolves in both of the new areas.
Asked about the possibility of the Friends of Animals’ tourist boycott intensifying, a spokeswoman for Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski said, “He’s [Murkowski] concerned about what Alaskans think” not what animal rights activists elsewhere in the nation think.
Permits for the aerial hunt will be issued on October 15th and the hunt itself should get underway sometime in early December.
State widens wolf control program. Tim Mowry, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, August 29, 2004.