Makah Loses Appeal

Last month this site noted that the Makah Indian Tribe was awaiting a judgment on its latest appeal in its quest to once again hunt whales. Earlier this month the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the tribe’s request for a hearing before the full court, leaving in place a decision by a three judge panel of the court halting the whale hunt.

The three judge panel ruled that the whale hunt is subject to the Marine Mammal Protection Act despite the tribe’s treat with the U.S. government guaranteeing it the right to hunt whales.

Obtaining a permit to hunt whales under the Marine Mammal Protection Act will requires a full-scale environmental analysis of the hunt and years of delay.

Fund for Animals director Michael Markarian told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that,

The Court of Appeals has been emphatic on this point . . . and it’s obviously something the American public doesn’t want.

Makah tribal member Wayne Johnson, however, said of the ruling that,

It’s another treaty broken by the United States.


Court rebuffs Makah’s appeal over whaling. Lewis Kamb, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 8, 2004.

Makah whaling review denied. Christopher Dunagan, TheSunLink.Com, June 8, 2004.

Makah Await Result of Latest Appeal on Whale Hunt

In November 2003 a three-judge panel of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Makah would not receive a rehearing of the court’s December 2002 decision barring the hunt. In that decision, a three-judge panel of the court ruled that the Makah must apply for a permit to hunt whales under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

In December the Makah filed an appeal asking the case to be heard by the full court of appeals. That appeal was rejected, but the court said the Makah could file another appeal, so on February 10 it formally requested that the court reconsider the decision blocking the whale hunt.

The answer to that appeal should come in the next month or two.


Tribe’s whalers await chance to hunt again. Lewis Kamb, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 17, 2004.

Makah whaling: Five years, it’s a court case. Peninsula Daily News, May 16, 2004.

Friends of Animals' Alaska Boycott Appears to Be Going Nowhere

In late December, Friends of Animals launched a tourist boycott of Alaska after that state decided to begin aerial killing of a small number of wolves. According to an Associated Press report, however, so far the boycott hasn’t had much of an effect on tourism or Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski’s commitment to the wolf hunting program.

The aerial hunt, which ended April 30, was intended to kill about 180 wolves in areas where they were perceived as killing too many moose. As of April 26, only 140 wolves had actually been killed. According to the Associated Press, there are anywhere from 8,000 to 11,000 wolves in Alaska.

What effect the boycott has had depends on who is doing the talking. The Alaska Travel Industry Association told the Associated Press that while it has received about 100 calls and 200 e-mails from people saying they will not visit Alaska due to the boycott, it’s difficult to know how many of those people actually cancelled reservations.

The AP interviewed representatives at two businesses — a lodge and a small eco-tour company — who say that they have not noticed any change in reservations.

On the other hand, the Alaska Wilderness Recreation and Tourism Association, which represents 275 smaller businesses, told the AP that the boycott could effect its members and responds to inquires with a letter reading that it,

. . . share[s] your concern for the wolves. . . . Unfortunately, our state leaders have ignored our wishes and gone ahead with their personal agenda.

As an example, the general manager of small travel company Alaska Discovery tells the AP that its reservations are the worst in its 33 years. So the boycott may end up largely hurting businesses which oppose the wolf hunting policy in the first place while doing little to actually change the policy. Still, another small travel company tells the AP that it’s business is up 20 percent from last year.

Indeed, Priscilla Feral seems to acknowledge that the boycott is unlikely to sway Murkowski, telling the Associated Press that the group may have to continue the protests and boycott through the end of Murkowski’s term of office,

I just find the current regime is really destructive beyond what anybody remembers in prior administrations. All of this, more than shaming Alaska, shames the country as a whole and that is why we aren’t going to go away.

Which means they could be doing their howl-ins for quite a while, since Murkowski’s term runs through the end of November 2006, assuming he isn’t re-elected.

Assuming the boycott has only minimal effect, the obvious question is why, considering how successful Friends of Animals’ 1993 boycott was. Obviously personalities are part of the reason, with Murkowski apparently willing to ignore any boycott whereas then Gov. Wally Hickel quickly caved into Feral’s demands. The other reason, I suspect, is the intervening 11 years of actions by animal rights activists — let’s call it the PETA factor.

In 1993, the animal rights movement was still relatively new and novel. Today, thanks to groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the movement is old hat and it’s objections to just about any animal-related activity much more widely known. I suspect that a large segment of people who in 1993 might have heard about the Alaska boycott and been sympathetic are today saying to themselves, “Oh, there go those animal rights activists again.”

PETA and other groups seem to operate on the principle that any publicity is good publicity, which might be true when promoting a movie or CD, but is not true when trying to bring about radical social changes.


Animal rights boycott of Alaska not working. Mary Pemberton, Associated Press, April 26, 2004.

PETA Gets Under Alaskan State Senator's Skin

In January, Alaskan State Rep. Bruce Wehyrauch let People for the Ethical Treatment get under his skin with their anti-salmon message.

In the wake of a study of Scottish farmed salmon that claimed high levels of PBCs and other toxins were found in the farmed fish, PETA urged people to avoid eating fish. In a press release, for example, PETA said,

While eating fish is dangerous for our health, it is always fatal for the fish. A study published last year by the Royal Society confirms what many marine biologists have been saying for years: Fish feel pain, just as all animals do. Fish raised in captivity are confined in crowded, unnatural conditions that cause stress, infection and parasites.

‘Now more than ever, eating fish is like playing Russian roulette with your health’, says PETA Europe Director Dawn Carr. ‘The best way to ensure that you and your family won’t get sick is to go vegetarian.’

This bit of nonsense angered Wehyrauch who apparently did not think PETA had done enough to distinguish between farmed and wild salmon. So, he asked Alaska’s attorney general to investigate whether or not the state would have a legal basis for suing PETA for disparaging salmon in general, which could potentially harm Alaska’s valuable salmon industry.

This seems to be an ongoing problem for Alaskan politicians who choose to follow animal rights nonsense with homegrown stupidity.

Alaskan State Attorney General Gregg Renkes told the Juneau Empire,

The governor’s looking for every opportunity to distinguish Alaska salmon from farmed salmon. We’ll try to see if there is an action that could be filed; it doesn’t jump right out at you.

Of course, there isn’t any action Alaska can take to prevent PETA from saying that people should avoid eating fish, and they come across as idiots for floating the idea that there might be — and, in the process, lend PETA’s views far more legitimacy and credence than they deserve.


PETA seafood ad vexes Wehyrauch. Masha Herbst, Juneau Empire, January 18, 2004.

PETA Distributes ‘Emergency Vegetarian Starter Kits’ at Borough Market’s Fish! Restaurant in Answer to Toxic Salmon Fears. Press Release, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, January 9, 2004.

Supporters Deliver Signatures for Bear Baiting Ban Initiative

On January 1, Citizens United Against Bear Baiting delivered more than the 33,500 signatures required to put a ban on bear baiting on the November 2004 Alaska ballot.

The proposed initiative would read,

“An act prohibiting the baiting or intentional feeding of bears.”

Be it enacted by the People of the State of Alaska:

Alaska Statutes Title 16 is amended to add a new Section 16.05.781, as follows:

16.05.781. Baiting or intentional feeding of bears prohibited.

(a) A person may not bait or intentionally feed a bear for the purpose of hunting, photographing, or viewing.

(b) Under this section, to “bait” or “intentionally feed” means to intentionally give, deposit, distribute, discard, scatter or otherwise expose any attractant or edible material in order to attract or entice a bear to enter into, or to remain in, a location or area.

(c) A person who violates this section is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

Currently Alaska permits the baiting of black bears but not of brown bears. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game argues that baiting of black bears is a legitimate wildlife management tools, especially in area where it is otherwise difficult to hunt bears due to thick vegetation. According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game about 500 of the 2,500 bears killed annually by hunters in Alaska are baited.

Arkansas, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming also allow bear baiting. Ballot initiatives have led to the banning of bear baiting in Colorado, Oregon and Washington state.

Opponents of bear baiting argue that it is unsportsmanlike, unsafe (since it might encourage bears to seek out food left behind by people), and inhumane. Proponents argue that baiting is a long standing tradition and is safer than other methods of hunting because hunters have a clear shot at the animals they are hunting.

Major national hunting and anti-hunting groups are likely to work to influence the outcome of the voting. The Humane Society of the United States’ Wayne Pacelle told the Anchorage Daily News,

We will certainly encourage our 13,000 Alaska members to become involved and vote yes on the initiative.

Pacelle added that HSUS would encourage “indigenous” fund raising to pass the initiative.

Meanwhile, Rob Sexton of the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance told the Anchorage Daily News, “We’ll call on sportsmen everywhere to help support the vote-no effort” and added that the effort to fight the ballot initiative would likely cost several hundred thousands of dollars.

As far as the arguments go, I agree with the Sportsmen’s Alliance that whether or not bear baiting is allowed should depend on whether it is a sound wildlife management practice rather than on vague arguments about whether or not it is “unfair.” Craig Medred of the Anchorage Daily News did a nice job of pointing out the problems with the fairness argument in a column for that newspaper,

All of which brings us back to Alaska, where wildlife is nowhere near as bountiful as Outside, where fewer and fewer hunt for sport, and where the idea of fairness has been dragged a baffling distance from its origins and sensibilities.

Suddenly, people are arguing about what’s fair to individual wild animals — as if that somehow mattered.

Does someone out there truly believe a bear cares whether it gets shot at a bait station or splashing in a salmon stream or frolicking in a berry patch, or that a wolf cares that death comes in the form of a single bullet from a quiet marksman hidden 300 yards away or a hail of bullets from an airplane or the noose of a snare?

The means of death are irrelevant to these animals. They want only to survive, but they can’t.

Sooner or later, they’re destined to die, as are we, because the cycle of life is built on death. It’s inherently unfair and random. One calf gets picked to become a breeding bull and spend its life in pampered enjoyment. Another gets earmarked to be fattened up for shipment to the slaughterhouse.

That’s the way it has been since the days of the dinosaurs. The animals with fangs and claws and tools kill and consume the plant eaters.


Bear baiting ban signatures delivered. MARY PEMBERTON
Associated Press, January 9, 2004.

Bear baiting opponents deliver signatures aplenty. Joel Gay, Anchorage Daily News, January 9, 2004.

Who ever said hunting was supposed to be fair? Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, January 25, 2004.

Alaska Expands Plans to Kill Wolves

While Priscilla Feral and Friends of Animals were busy trying to organize protests against plans by Alaska to kill 140 wolves in the McGrath area using aerial hunting, the Alaskan Department of Fish and Game was busy expanding its wolf control program. In January it began taking permit applications to kill about 30 wolves in the Nelchina basin.

As with the McGrath plan, the goal of the wolf control program in Nelchina is to reduce the wolf population in order to increase the size of the moose population for hunters.

The Nelchina basin had a land-and-shoot program until 1995, and since that program ended the wolf population in the area has more than doubled according to the Department of Fish and Game. This has resulted in the moose population in the region declining by more than half (the wolves are apparently extremely efficient at killing moose calves).

As far as McGrath, so far weather conditions have meant that no wolves have been killed yet, but the Department of Fish and Game expects that to change in February and March.


Alaska takes applications for new wolf control program. Mary Pemberton, Associated Press, January 7, 2004.