This week the group Defenders of Wildlife launched a campaign against Alaska Governor, and probable 2012 Republican presidential candidate. Sarah Palin’s state program of aerial wolf hunting. Palin defended the program as animal control, while the group calls it slaughter.
Here is the Ashley Judd narrated video:
Ashley Judd, who during the 2008 campaign call women who vote for Palin suicidal, said in a press release, “I am outraged by Sarah Palin’s promotion of this cruel, unscientific and senseless practice, which has no place in modern America. Because she is apparently determined to continue and expand this horrific program, I am grateful that Defenders will aggressively fight to stop her. I am proud to be a part of that effort.”
In a statement Palin called the campaign a distortion, “The ad campaign by this extreme fringe group, as Alaskans have witnessed over the last several years, distorts the facts about Alaska’s wildlife management programs. Alaskans depend on wildlife for food and cultural practices which can’t be sustained when predators are allowed to decimate moose and caribou populations. Our predator control programs are scientific and successful at protecting vulnerable wildlife. These audacious fundraising attempts misrepresent what goes on in Alaska, and I encourage people to learn the facts about Alaska’s positive record of managing wildlife for abundance.”
Today Scientific American weighed in with an article that features an interview with wildlife biologist Shawn Haskell who has studied wolf and caribou populations in Alaska. Haskell said that there is a stronger link between bears and caribou than between wolves and caribou. He suggested that the Alaska predator program should be more targeted towards bears.
“Wolves, however, aren’t necessarily the big problem. Bears can be a bigger issue than wolves when it comes to the survival of moose young. The whole predator control focus seems to be aimed at wolves from a general standpoint. I’m not sure that’s always appropriate. Bears are held to a different standard. You have to hire a guide to hunt a bear if you are a nonresident—it’s a big business in Alaska. They are also less visible. Wolves exist in packs. They howl at night when they are hunting,” Haskell said.
“Moose calves have a “hider” strategy. They hide in the vegetation, and that makes them susceptible to bears. That’s why I find it very interesting that people want to increase moose populations, but they talk about culling wolves. I’ve questioned that myself. It doesn’t have to do with science, it’s just the way it is,” Haskell continued. I think Mr. Haskell hit the nail on the head. This has little to do with science, and everything to do with politics and tourism. Bear hunting brings tourists and money.
Plus culturally the wolf has been assigned the role of the villain, so it is easy to hunt wolves because they are the predatory bad guys. As far as the Ashley Judd is concerned, this won’t be the last time she will be taking shots at Palin (pun intended). Politically, this could work out for both Palin and Defenders of Wildlife. The group probably got lots of visitors to their new website eyeonpalin.org, and Palin gets to appeal to conservative base by doing battle with liberal conservationists.
She is claiming that the group is trying to use her to raise money, “Shame on the Defenders of Wildlife for twisting the truth in an effort to raise funds from innocent and hard-pressed Americans struggling with these rough economic times.” It was a terrible idea for Palin to issue a statement from the governor’s office about the ad campaign. Her actions once again prove that she views the governor’s office as nothing more than a stepping stone to a White House bid.