Monday, December 10, 2007

Community Meeting with ADF&G About the Wolves

Last night the Department of Fish and Game hosted a community meeting on the topic of the wolves that have been killing and eating dogs in our community. They brought along just about every person from the local Fish and Game office who might have some insight into related issues or could benefit from some "face time" in front of the public.

The meeting was important enough to be covered by local media and resulted in an article in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Held at the local Church of the Nazarene, over 100 people showed up to learn what we could and to share ideas for dealing with the issue.

Of course anytime you get more than 2 Alaskans discussing an issue you can expect a wide range of ideas, many of which are impractical.

"Bill Blizzard, a longtime Two Rivers resident who lost a dog to the wolves last week, said the state and the community need to get “proactive” about killing the wolves before they harm a child. He suggested a hotline and Internet exchanges to gather information, followed by helicopters and a bounty for a swift and precise attack.

While his comment got applause, some worried about the backlash from any drastic action.

“The last thing we need is for everyone to go overboard,” said Brendan Wolff, a musher who lives near 14 Mile Chena Hot Springs Road.

Leroy Shank, a member of the Alaska Trappers Association, called these “citified wolves” with enough street smarts to evade even an experienced trapper. He worried about droves of amateurs setting snares along popular trails.

“If you do that, you’re going to kill more dogs than the wolves are killing,” Shank said.

There is certainly no lack of effort going toward killing the wolves. While we were training dogs the other day our teams passed by at least four different hunters along the baseline trail, one idiot even driving his pickup truck down the heavily used dogsled trail. A friend who lives along that trail and who has had wolves lurking about her kennel noted that sense a newspaper article appeared a week or so ago there has never been less than four people trying to hunt wolves in the field that borders her property.

I agree with Leroy Shank - too many amateurs are running around in the woods hoping to become a local bar-room hero by killing a wolf. They are unlikely to be successful at harvesting a wolf, but will almost certainly teach these very intelligent animals some unique new ways to survive making them even harder for professionals to accomplish the task. I suspect this problem is going to be with us for a while.

Personally, I'm still very confident that the combination of good fences, alert guardian dogs and my own willingness to respond when those alert dogs "go off" will allow me to keep my team safe. I hope that may neighbors are also able to protect their own dogs until these wolves can start hunting alternative prey.

No comments:

Post a Comment