Monday, July 14, 2014

Alaska Celebrates Rescued Wolf Pups And Kills Their Wild Kin


 In May, firefighters discovered 2-week-old wolf pups hiding alone in their den to escape the smoke and flames of the massive Funny River wildfire in the Kenai Peninsula Wildlife Refuge. The five survivors were taken to the Alaska Zoo where they were nursed back to health. Tomorrow, the pups will take a final journey to their permanent home at the Minnesota Zoo.

We wish the beautiful pups the best of luck. We’re joined by the masses as there has been a national outpouring of love and concern for these pups. Although the pups have reached celebrity status in the state of Alaska, the state’s predator control program is responsible for killing their wild kin. Many are concerned that the aggressive and controversial program is having an impact on tourists who come from far and wide to visit the beautiful state just to see them. A journey to Alaska requires a substantial financial investment on the part of many visitors; and we bring this substantial economic engine with us when we stay in hotels, eat in restaurants, buy in stores, etc. ....just to see wolves.

According to a report from the Anchorage and Juneau based McDowell Group, wildlife viewing was the second most popular activity for tourists visiting Alaska in 2011. The report also indicates that spotting wild animals was the number one activity for visitors to interior Alaska. Those who traveled to Denali were more likely to look for wildlife. Financial estimates show Denali tourism alone contributes over $140+ million dollars a year to Alaska’s economy.

Unfortunately, the most recent wolf population survey in Denali National Park - supposedly protected public land - reveals one of the lowest wolf populations in the past 20 years. Why? Because the most viewed packs in the park are subjected to hunting and trapping as soon as they leave protected territory. In the rest of the state, they are shot, trapped, snared, and aerial shot in pristine wilderness (where they have no conflict with humans) just to boost elk, moose, and caribou numbers for a declining hunting demand. Only 6% of Americans say they hunt and less than that actually buy hunting tags.

The Alaska Zoo is expecting to get large crowds on the Funny River wildfire pups’ last day in the state. When will Alaska realize this phenomenon relates to the wild as well? When Alaska will realize it is killing its "golden goose?"

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