Friends of Animals Threatens Alaska Boycott

The Friends of Animals is threatening a tourism boycott of Alaska if the Alaska Game Board follows through on a proposal to thin the wolf pouplation in order to boost the moose population.

At issue is a 520 square mile area near McGrath, Alaska (about 200 miles northest of Anchorage). According to biologists with the Alaska Fish and Game Department, the 490 moose inthe area produce 344 calves annually. By the time black bears, wolves, grizzly bears and human hunters have killed adult moose, the herd remains static in size.

The state would like to remove some predators in order to allow the moose population to increase so that hunters can kill 130-150 of the animals each year instead of the 98 or so that they harvest currently.

Friends of Animals’ Priscilla Feral promises a tourism boycott of Alaska if the state goes ahead with the predator removal.

“For every dollar you spend to kill a wolf,” Feral told the Alaska Game Board, “we will match in launching an offensive.”

Feral said that her group would take out advertisements in major newspapers urging tourists to avoid Alaska.


Alaska wolves plan prompts boycott. Dan Joling, Associated Press, March 8, 2003.

Alaska Judge Upholds Judgment Against Friends of Animals, Lowers Award

An Alaskan Superior Court judge this week upheld a judgment by a Tok, Alaska jury that held biologist Gordon Haber and Friends of Animals liable for the release of a black wolf from a trap in 1997.

Haber released the wolf from a trap owned by Eugene Johnson; the wolf died several weeks later from injuries related to wire that Haber did not remove from the animal before releasing it.

At the time Haber released the animal, he was conducting research paid for by Friends of Animals. After Haber began distributing a videotape of the wolf’s release, Johnson sued both him and Friends of Animals claiming that the release violated Alaska state law.

In 2000, a jury agreed, awarding Johnson $40,000 in damages from Haber and $150,000 from Friends of Animals. They both appealed that verdict, but Superior Court Judge Richard Savell upheld the jury’s decision while at the same time agreeing that it had overstepped how much it could award in the case.

Savell reduced the award against Friends of Animals to $100,000 and holds Haber liable for about $79,000 in damages, but essentially permits Johnson’s estate (the trapper died in June 2002) to collect from only one defendant.

Neither Haber nor Friends of Animals has said whether it will appeal Savill’s ruling.


Man who freed wolf loses. Associated Press, September 8, 2002.

Bayer Reverses Its Stance on Iditarod

After coming under pressure from animal rights activists, Bayer had announced that it would end its policy of donating veterinary pharmaceuticals for use on dogs during the Iditarod race.

Then Iditarod supporters kicked into high gear, especially in Alaska where more than a few newspaper columnists and others called for a boycott of Bayer for giving into the demands of animal rights activists.

Now, Bayer has reversed its original ban and announced that it will once again provide veterinary medications free of charge for use during the race.


Bayer Supports Animal Welfare at Iditarod Despite Squeals From Animal Rights Fanatics to Stop. National Animal Interest Alliance, Press Release, March 23, 2001.

Fulfilling Terminally Ill Kids' Hunting Dreams

As of January 1, 2001, the Make-a-Wish Foundation — the group that fulfills terminally ill children’s last wishes — will no longer aid children who want to go on hunting trips as their final wish. Rock star and pro-hunting advocate Ted Nugent and the Hunt of a Lifetime Foundation are filling that gap, however, by fulfilling such dreams.

The Make-a-Wish Foundation is certainly free to set up whatever criteria it sees fit in helping terminally ill children’s last wishes, but at least it could be honest about why it no longer grants hunting wishes. According to the Phoenix-based group, it has nothing against hunting per se, but says that hunting is just too unsafe for terminally ill children to participate in. According to Make-a-Wish spokesman Jim Maggio,

When you take into consideration the fact that the child may have been weakened by the effects of that life-threatening illness, and all the treatment protocols and medications that may accompany that — it’s simply to great a risk to the safety of that child than we’re willing to assume.

This sort of half-hearted explanation actually makes Nugent look like a sage commentator when he notes that in the case of Zachary Martin, 16, who Nugent will be taking along with him for a big game hunt in South Africa, Martin’s parents and doctors have all given their blessing for the hunting trip. “Somebody at the Make-a-Wish foundation knows better than those people?” Nugent told Fox News. “I think not.”

Why not just come out and say that the group started feeling the heat of animal rights protests beginning in 1996 after it helped a young man fulfill his dream of hunting in Alaska’s wilderness? Hiding behind alleged medical reasons seems like an extremely transparent excuse.

The Make-a-Wish Foundation still will sponsor fishing trips, but its anti-hunting stance will certainly embolden animal rights activists to go after the group over helping terminally ill children kill fish. As Nugent told Fox,

Last time I checked your tuna salad is dead. Fishing, hunting and trapping are all the same and it is the proper and scientifically sound utilization of natural resources. Hunting is not only honorable and essential, but it’s probably the last pure function that a living being can be part of. It’s birth, life and death. Mankind knows all about killing. We have to eat. Meat is food.

It won’t be long until the activists start making the same argument to the Make-a-Wish Foundation urging an end to horribly cruel fishing trips.


Young hunters’ wishes can come true, after all. Robert Shaffer, Fox News, January 22, 2001.

Trapper Awarded $150,000 In Lawsuit Against Friends of Animals

    An Alaskan trapper recent won a $150,000 judgment against Friends of Animals researcher Gordon Haber for freeing an injured wolf out of a snare.

    In 1997, biologist Haber discovered the wolf caught in a trap set by Alaskan Eugene Johnson. Haber called Alaska state wildlife officials to free the wolf arguing it had been trapped illegally since there were dead caribou carcasses in the vicinity which violates an anti-baiting statute. Officials said they’d free the animal but when they didn’t show up, Haber released the animal himself all the while creating a videotape of his actions which he later released to highlight what he believes is an “abusive type of snaring.”

    Under Alaskan law, however, the wolf was the property of Johnson the moment it came into the trap. Since prosecutor’s decided there wasn’t enough evidence to charge Johnson with illegally baiting a trap, Johnson turned around and sued Haber for compensation for the lost wolf. Haber claimed he had the permission of state wildlife officials to free the wolf, but they testified that they told him as soon as he called that the wolf was the property of the trapper under Alaskan law.

    In addition to economic damage, Johnson argued that Haber was acting along with Friends of Animals to create a sensationalized videotape and damage his reputation for fund-raising purposes.

    Although both Haber and Friends of Animals maintain that Haber is an independent research biologist who happens to receive funding from the animal rights group, the jury decided that Haber was in fact acting as an employee of Friends of Animals when he released the wolf from the trap.

    After the verdict, Haber was defiant saying, “If they think I’m going to go away licking my wounds, they’re wrong. It just makes me more determined to get out there.”

    Friends of Animals, who paid all of the legal fees for their non-employee Haber has not yet decided whether it will appeal the jury verdict.


Trapper awarded damages. Tim Mowry, Fairbanks Daily News, July 24, 2000.

Biologist undeterred by verdict in trapping case. The Associated Press, July 26, 2000.

Bill to reform baiting laws introduced in the House of Representatives

Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) introduced
much-needed legislation in the House of Representatives to reform so-called
baiting laws that make it illegal for hunters to Hunt in areas baited
to attract animals. Over 4,200 people have been charged with hunting in
a baited area over the last 5 years; all but 300 of those cases end in
guilty pleas or convictions.

Rep. Young’s bill would not overturn
the baiting prohibition, but instead remove the strict liability requirement
of the law and replace it with a lower liability standard.

The strict liability provision
currently means that in most parts of the country a hunter can be prosecuted
for being in a baited area even if he was completely unaware that the
area was baited. Former Minnesota Vikings coach Bud Grant was charged
in March, for example, for hunting in a baited area in Nebraska on a trip
that had been arranged by that state’s tourism office. Grant claimed he
did not know that there was some corn in a field where the guide took
his party. Under the strict liability requirement such a defense is irrelevant.

Three states — Texas, Louisiana
and Mississippi — already operate under the lower liability standard,
which requires officials to prove that hunters knew they were hunting
in a baited area, after a federal appeals court overturned the strict
liability portion of the anti-baiting law in those states.

The Fish and Wildlife Service,
which is expected to oppose the bill, argues hunters regularly claim they
do not know an area was baited. As Kevin Adams, chief law enforcement
agent for the Fish and Wildlife Service said, “It’s very common for
hunters to say they didn’t know (the bait) was there, when in fact they
either did know or more often than not they took no steps at all to determine
whether it was baited or not.”

This may or may not be true, but
it should be the burden of the state, as in any criminal investigation,
to prove wrongdoing rather than just assume it.


Philip Brasher “Bill Would make it tougher to prosecute ‘baiting’ hunters”
Associated Press April 30, 1998.