Alaska’s Republican governors find vicious ways to kill predators and mark their territory with the feds.
from Slate.com October 31st 2014. By Krista Langlois
John Burch spent 20 years studying a family of 11 wolves. Then one day last winter, the entire pack was shot dead.
The wolves were called the Lost Creek pack, and they’d carved out a territory along the border of Yukon–Charley Rivers National Preserve, deep in the Alaskan interior. Burch, a National Park Service biologist, had been using radio collars to follow the wolves as they hunted caribou, mated, and raised pups, mostly within the boundaries of the 2.5 million–acre preserve of boreal forest, open tundra, and massive river valleys east of Fairbanks. As long as the wolves stayed inside Yukon–Charley, they were relatively safe. Cross the preserve’s invisible border, though, and they were running for their lives.
That’s because Yukon–Charley abuts one of Alaska’s “predator control” units, where state agencies kill wolves and bears to boost populations of moose, caribou, and other animals that people eat. In February, after the Lost Creek pack loped past the border of Yukon–Charley, state biologists shot all 11 wolves from a helicopter, wiping out 20 years of research in a single day. Had it been a few years earlier, the state agents charged with predator control would’ve seen Burch’s radio collars and spared at least some of the Lost Creek pack. But no longer, Burch says: “There’s no negotiations anymore. They kill almost all the wolves they can find. These last two winters they’ve pretty well gotten most of them.”