Palin and wolf hunting

A wildlife group's ad attacks Palin for supporting the shooting of wolves from airplanes. She does, but there's more to it than that. Killing a few wolves stops lots a caribou calves from being killed. What have the animal lovers got against caribou calves? No mercy for calves? Are some animals more equal than others? Maybe the animal lovers concerned think caribou are a type of vegetable. They seem dumb enough. Real animal lovers would SUPPORT Palin

A new ad from Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund shows the pursuit and shooting of a wolf from a small plane and tells viewers that Sarah Palin "actively promotes" such killings. It's true that she does, and in 2007 she offered $150 payments for anyone who brought the left forepaw of a wolf to state officials. The ad calls the practice "brutal and unethical" but doesn't tell the whole story.

* Alaskan officials call it "predator control," not aerial hunting, and use it to keep the populations of moose and caribou high for subsistence hunters.

* The program is limited to just 9 percent of the state's land mass, or five of 26 Department of Fish and Game districts.

* Far from being endangered, as they are in the Lower 48 states, gray wolves number between 7,000 and 11,000 in Alaska.

This TV spot isn't for the squeamish, especially not squeamish animal-lovers. Its visuals include sinister-looking photos of Gov. Sarah Palin juxtaposed with footage of a wolf trying to outrun an airplane, then being shot and writhing in pain. Finally we see a small plane taking off, a wolf carcass tied to one of its wing struts.

There's a lot of emotional huffing and puffing in the ad. It says "Sarah Palin actively promotes the brutal and unethical aerial hunting of wolves and other wildlife" and says she encourages "cruelty" and "champions ... savagery." But strip away the emotional characterization and we're left with a description of Palin's position that is essentially factually correct, though incomplete....

If you think the explanation above implies a more complicated landscape than the ad shows us, you're correct. In the first place, while gray wolves are listed as an endangered species in the Lower 48, and great efforts have been made to reintroduce them in some Western states, they are abundant in Alaska. Ron Clarke, assistant director of the Division of Wildlife Conservation at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, says the state is home to between 7,000 and 11,000 of them. Wolf populations in Alaska have bounced back since the 1950s, when federal agents conducted an extensive poisoning and aerial shooting campaign; moose and caribou proliferated as a result, in some cases leading to severe degradation of their own habitats.

Second, it's not for nothing that wolves have acquired their big, bad reputations. Studies indicate that predators (wolves and bears) often take 70 percent to 80 percent of the moose and caribou that die each year in Alaska. Research by the state Department of Fish and Game shows that "a single wolf eats 12-13 moose in a typical year and/or 30-40 caribou, mostly calves."

More here

Posted by John Ray. For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. For a daily survey of Australian politics, see AUSTRALIAN POLITICS Also, don't forget your roundup of Obama news and commentary at OBAMA WATCH (2). Email me (John Ray) here

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