Palin and the Wolves

6 Feb

I just have to weigh in on this brou-ha-ha.

First, this didn’t just start yesterday, kiddies.  On October 1, 2008, Sam Stein of the Huffington Post gave us this version of the on-it’s-way-to-becoming-infamous “aerial wolf-hunting” video (it’s not for the squeamish):


He also claimed that, while it “may have been one of the least remarked-upon,” it was also “one of the most successful” ads launched during the presidential campaign. FactCheck.org said on September 24 & 26, 2008, the video was factual but didn’t tell “the whole story.”

Now the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund has Ashley Judd fronting the video for them as part of their national campaign to out Palin’s anti-conservationism.  The only change I could detect was the addition of Ashley’s face and name at the beginning of the video:


What I find most irritating about the supposed “Judd/Palin” feud being created and fueled by the media (who [along with me, apparently] has nothing better to do) is the part of Palin’s statement (there’s so much more there, but I have only so much time to waste) that reads “Alaskans depend on wildlife for food and cultural practices which can’t be sustained when predators are allowed to decimate moose and caribou populations.”  She ain’t talking ’bout no human predators, of course.

I’ve never been, and never will be, a proponent of “wildlife management.”  I believe, dedicated little witch and nature lover that I am, Mother Nature is the best “wildlife manager” in existence and is best left in charge of the wolf, bear, wolverine, moose and caribou populations in Alaska and elsewhere.  In fact, I think she should be in charge of the human population, too, and she should deal with Sarah Palin first.

Regarding the first half of her statement, let’s think about who “depends” on wildlife for food in Alaska.  I would be mighty shocked to find out the Governor of Alaska was so hard up she had to scrabble and forage for her meals, but she and just about everyone else who lives in Alaska seems to feel it is their inalienable right to hunt and kill whatever living, breathing animal happens to be their favorite snack.  In my opinion, no one living in an urban area with access to a steady supply of food “depends” on wildlife for food!  She also says “the facts about Alaska’s wildlife management programs” have been distorted and that Alaska has a “positive record of managing wildlife for abundance.”  In truth, the state’s wildlife management law is supposed to “restore the abundance or productivity of identified big game prey populations as necessary to achieve human consumptive use goals.”  Human consumptive use goals.  Human needs come first and their abundance isn’t for their own good, it’s for their use as food.  Mankind (and Sarah Palin by extension) is so arrogant!  It is this kind of attitude that creates organizations like Defenders of Wildlife.

The primary “human consumers” in the Alaskan wildlife management program are “subsistence hunters,” who would be the people Palin says “depend on wildlife for food.”  Bet you thought I’d never complete the circle, eh?  Now, consider that only 20% of Alaska’s population actually live in rural areas!!  Even if wolves “decimate” 200,000 out of 1,000,000 caribou (i.e., 20%), that leaves 80% (or 800,000 caribou) for 134,010 people (20% of 670,053 people as of 2006 census).  That equates to nearly 6 caribou per rural person.  In contrast, there are thought to be 11,000 (max) wolves who eat 40 (max) caribou a year for a total of 440,000 caribou eaten, still leaving about 4 caribou per person.  One caribou yields about 46 kg (at little more than 100 pounds) of meat.

If wolves “decimate” 35,000 out of 175,000 (min) moose (i.e., 20%), that leaves 80% (or 140,000 moose ) for 134,010 people (20% of 670,053 people as of 2006).  That equates to nearly one moose per rural person.  In contrast, there are thought to be 11,000 (max) wolves who eat 13 (max) moose a year for a total 143,000 moose eaten, just a little over the total estimated number of rural Alaskans (134,010) and the percentage of moose left to them!!  If the Alaskans don’t want the wolves to eat their moose, I say let the wolves eat the rural Alaskans (that’s a joke, in case it escaped your notice).

Next, let’s address those who “culturally” need wildlife in Alaska.  To need an animal for “cultural practices,” the animal in question must form some part of the traditional and customary practices of a particular ethnic or other cultural group.  The only ethnic or cultural groups in Alaskan are the Inupiat, Yupik, Aleut, Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, Eyak, and a number of Northern Athabaskan cultures.  According to the 2000 Census, 15.6% of Alaskans were Native American or Alaska Native.  This means even fewer people (104,528 ) than subsistence hunters/rural Alaskans “depend” on moose and caribou and you can be sure that Alaskan Natives overlap as subsistence hunters/rural Alaskans, so the two sets of figures cannot be added together.

So Palin’s argument that moose and caribou populations can’t be sustained if shared with their natural predators and rural/Native Alaskans is clearly full of buckshot.  However, it is undeniably true none of the wildlife in Alaska will be sustained if shared with the entire human population of Alaska, including their children!  I find it so disturbing the State of Alaska has laws requiring hunting season be held before school starts in fall “[f]or the purpose of encouraging adults to take children hunting.”  WTF?

Palin doesn’t dispute any of the claims made in the video because she can’t; they’re true!  As soon as she was elected Governor of Alaska, she DID offer Government funds to pay people $150 for hacked-off wolves’ forelegs, but Defenders of Wildlife successfully had a judge sink some fangs in Palin’s nasty ass to stop that happening.  WTF was she thinking?  Does she think?  “Savage” and “brutal” aren’t strong enough words for such mental defectiveness; let’s try “sadistic” and “psychotic monster.”  She also introduced legislation to make it easier for aerial “kill” decisions to be approved and, although the Senate wisely defeated it, she’s vowed to try to push it through again.  All so she can eat her some moose when the mood strikes her.  If her freaky ass hunts for subsistence and cultural consumption, I say Alaska needs to seceed.

Here is a lovely dissenting voice:

The wolf population in Alaska has been eating about 98 percent of Caribou calfs, [sic] leading to a dramatic decrease in the caribou population, depriving those in Alaska who depend on hunting to feed themselves and their familes [sic] of their main source of meat.

Does Ashley airhead, the the DOW bunch favor the decimation of the caribou and the starving of people? They don’t base their arguments on facts.

Most people are getting tired of these wackos.

greg, Feb 03, 2009

Some people are put on earth to provide infinite joy and amusement for others.  While it is true that “[s]tudies indicate that predators (wolves and bears) often take 70 percent to 80 percent of the moose and caribou that die each year in Alaska”, not 70%-80% of the entire population or even 70%-80% of the moose or caribou calves, I could not find any studies that supported greg’s [sic] claim.  It would have been nice if [G]reg had said, “According to XYZ…, the wolf population in Alaska has been eating about 98 percent of Caribou [calves]”, but stupid people who can’t spell, have poor grammar, and just make up statistics never provide backup for their “wacko” claims.  The closest example I could find was a study conducted by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Wildlife Conservation Divison documenting the dramatic decline of a SINGLE herd on the Southern Alaska Peninsula from ~1,800 to ~600 members during 2003-2007 “in spite of good nutrition and minimal hunting harvest.  The problem has been calves are not living as long as they should.  Adequate numbers of calves have been born each year, but survival has been poor.  During the past two years [2006-2007], nearly all of the calves [have] been killed.” On the basis that brown bears just do not kill as many calves as wolves, as shown in the following graph of causes of caribou calf death in the first weeks of life on the Alaska Pennisula, it was determined that 25 wolves would be located by helicopter and killed.

sap_figure4

To my eyes, it looks like brown bears DO kill nearly as many calves as wolves, but what do I know?  The study says 400 calves were born in May 2007 and only 2 survived to July.  With such small numbers, 120 would have been killed by bears (30%) and 168 by wolves (42%; nowhere near [G]reg’s claim of 98%!!), a difference of only 48 calves.  On that small difference, a decision to kill 25 wolves was made and the bears “got off scott-free.”  I don’t get it.  If the bears were just as responsible as the wolves, both having noshed and dined on calves in the hundreds, why were the bears left to continue their murderous infanticide unchecked?  Could it be that brown bears are photogenic and attract tourists, while wolves have no financial value at all?  Of course, in my opinion neither species should have been “adjusted” and the brown bears will be eliminated, too, the minute the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Wildlife Conservation Division determines they’ve endangered the “human consumption use goals” of the salmon population, the main food and industry in the area.

Additionally, the study states “[w]inter population counts in 2004-2005 also indicated a population decline, but not dramatically different than patterns seen in the late 1980s, when a decline was followed by herd growth” and “[t]he southern Alaska Peninsula is a difficult place to conduct aerial surveys due to the remote location and extreme weather.”  Is it at all possible this fluctuation was natural and Mother Nature would have corrected it, or the data was incorrect?  What IS clear is that because THIS herd was considered “by the Board as important for human consumption, the Department [was] mandated by Alaska’s ‘intensive management’ law to take steps to rescue the herd” despite the fact that the main subsistence food and industry of the Southern Alaska Peninsula is fish, with tourism coming in a distant second. Also, most of the peninsula is protected as Federal parkland and reserves, so the State decided, and put it in writing!, to ambush and kill the wolves as they left Federal land.  How arrogant, heinous and barbaric.  There’s a reason you’re not allowed to kill wolves while they’re on Federal land, duh (see the Federal report below–it may be old, but that doesn’t make it less valuable).

The idea that people in Alaska are going to starve if they have no caribou to kill and eat is patently ludicrous based on common sense, but the [G]regs of this world don’t respond to common sense.  So after researching population density and settlement in Alaska and reviewing related maps, like this one:

I can assert the following facts:  (1) With the exception of Fairbanks, all of the denser populations are located or or near the coast while (2) the sparser populations are located on or near the coast or on or near a river.  This is significant insofar as there are enormous amounts of protein to be found in the Alaskan waters; more, in fact, than on land.  In combination with Jennifer Johnson’s presentation, “Diet in Alaska 2005,”  from which I developed the following chart of food preferences for subsistence hunters/Native Alaskans by locale, I think the starvation issue plainly has a big boot up its ass, as anyone can plainly see fish and sea creatures are the “main source of meat,” not caribou (except, naturally, for those in the interior whose access is more limited).  Ha ha ha, looks like you’re the “wacko,” [G]reg.

Locale

Subsistence Food Choices

Southeast

  • Salmon and Hooligan from Rivers
  • Moose, Caribou
  • Shellfish, Chitons (Gumboots), Fish Eggs
  • Seaweed, Greens, Berries
  • Seals
  • Halibut

South Central

  • Fish
  • Sea Mammals
  • Seaweed
  • Greens, Roots, and Berries
  • Inland Moose, Freshwater Fish
  • Waterfowl

Southwest

  • Salmon and River Fish
  • Moose
  • Waterfowl
  • Greens, Roots and Berries on Coast
  • Seals, Walrus
  • Beluga Whale

Aleutian and Pribilof Islands

  • Fish, including Halibut
  • Birds
  • Plants, Berries
  • Fur Seal
  • Sea Lion

Interior

  • Caribou, Moose
  • Waterfowl
  • Small Game
  • Fish along Rivers
  • Roots and Berries
  • Greens

Arctic and Northwest

  • Marine Mammals
  • Fish
  • Waterfowl
  • Caribou
  • Small Game
  • Bird Eggs
  • Berries

Since [G]reg hasn’t based any of his statements on facts, I’m very comfortable feeling smug and laughing at him behind his back or to his face, whichever presents itself. A girl’s got to have her fun.

While researching [G]reg’s assertions, I did find a very interesting read about wolf predation in “The Wolves of Mount McKinley” dated 1942 hosted by the National Park Service, wherein Adolph Murie, a biologist, asks us in the foreword “IN RECENT YEARS there has been widespread concern over the increase of wolves and coyotes in Alaska. Special efforts have been made to control the wolf, especially in areas occupied by domestic reindeer, and there has been some apprehension concerning the welfare of the big game herds elsewhere in Alaska. Since Mount McKinley National Park lies in the heart of the Alaska wolf range and carries its proportionate quota of the general wolf population, park administrators were uncertain as to what should be the policy toward the wolves in this particular area. What, for instance, is the total effect of the wolf preying on the big game species in this national park? What is the relationship between the wolves of the park and the general wolf population of Alaska? How do such predators as the golden eagle, fox, grizzly bear, and lynx affect the hoofed animals, and how does the wolf affect these predators?”

Here are his conclusions regarding the caribou:  “The caribou is the main food of the wolf, and a heavy toll of the calves is taken. Yet the park herd of between 20,000 and 30,000 animals is apparently maintaining its numbers. After the first few days in the life of the calves the hunting of them by wolves necessitates a chase which usually eliminates the slowest and weakest. Since the caribou and the wolf (and also the sheep and the wolf) have existed together for many centuries, it is not surprising that under wilderness conditions the two species are well adjusted to each other. The status of the caribou should be watched because the herds spend much time outside the park where they are in territory open to hunting. In respect to the sheep, the caribou is an important buffer species.”  The implications are that hunting, rather than the wolves, should be curtailed.

Here are his conclusions regarding the moose:  “The moose in recent years, in the presence of a high wolf population, has increased conspicuously in Mount McKinley National Park and adjacent territory. This increase is generally attributed to a decrease of moose hunting by man.”  Once again, wolves did not contribute to any decimation of the moose population!  The implication was that hunting by man was the culprit.  People often ask, “Why can’t we ever learn from our past mistakes?”  Here is such as excellent example with so much prior evidence that, left alone, Mother Nature will provide the necessary balance.

But Gov. Sarah Palin does NOT care about natural balance.  She cares about hunting and if you don’t think she’s concerned about the financial gains inherent in hunting, you’re an idiot.  I can see her drooling as she drops off to sleep, anticipating dreams about all the guns, ammo, clothing, and supplies purchased in pursuit of the sport of hunting.  All the money spent on snow mobiles and the fuel to run them, the money paid to pilots and the fuel to fly their planes, the cameras to record the adventures of the hunters, the inns to house them, the food to feed them while they’re in town, the transportation to get them from here to there.  By no means is the hunting of caribou or moose or any other creature in Alaska limited to the residents of Alaska; hunting is BIG BUSINESS in Alaska, you can bet your moose stew on it.  And ANYBODY that gets anyone to take off their wacko Sarah Palin spectacles and take a real look at her Alaskan high jinks and antics is on the right track.  Thanks, Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund and Ashley Judd!

Wolves and Kat = 1

Palin and Wackos=Ø


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2 Responses to “Palin and the Wolves”

  1. Marvin the Martian February 11, 2009 at 9:24 PM #

    I think all of the caribou AND the wolves deserve to be killed by a massive asteroid, and all that meat will go to waste, letting the few surviving humans starve. That will make those liberal wackos happy. 😉

    • Faerie♥Kat February 11, 2009 at 11:25 PM #

      You are one nasty Martian; no wonder Mars is a red desert! And lest ye
      forget I’m a bleeding-heart liberal witch, you better start thinking nicer
      thoughts or I’ll send you on a midnight broom tour to visit GT281 in
      Iwegia, where the ice and snow should thaw your frozen heart and mend you
      of your Marvinish ways–pplllttthhhh!!!

      (I am quite amenable, however, to any proposals to have ultra-conservative
      right-wing Republicans gathered together in one place to cushion and soften
      the landing site of the massive asteroid. We here on earth are, if
      nothing, always accommodating and thinking of the comfort of all entities
      (sentient and not) arriving from outer space. Hey, if we can let you land,
      we can handle a giant rock, which has just got to have a higher
      intelligence quotient. *snert/grin*)

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