« Surface Politics | Main | The Trouble With Being [an] Earmark »

September 08, 2008

Comments

Eric, you're being very mean about Todd Palin's hobbies.

And one might also mention the Palin approach to polar bears.

Not to be picky, and things could definitely be different in AK, but wolves most definitely eat moose in MN. Which doesn't mean shooting wolves from airplanes (or period) isn't appalling.

bleh -- i'm definitely not watching the video

Which Animals Would Jesus Pay You to Shoot from Airplanes?

The obvious answer here: Dinosaurs.

Every day she sounds more and more like the female version of Dick Cheney.

Not to be picky, and things could definitely be different in AK, but wolves most definitely eat moose in MN

True, but with all those caribou in AK? Even if wolves do kill an occasional moose, are the number big enough to justify this sadism?

"The obvious answer here: Dinosaurs."

Please don't step on any butterflies.

Thank you.

Gus, curious side note:

My mother grew up in northern Minnesota (Ely) and Alaska (Chugiak).

My grandparents lived in Alaska for my entire childhood (until there deaths - grandma just last year, sadly) and I got the opportunity to visit multiple times. I've been to Ely even more.

Not that it's given me any particular insight into the diets of their respective wolf populations.

Incidentally, and somewhat digressively, but in response to some of the comments: I don't think it's a great tactic to win more rural votes by going on about hunting, in general, as icky.

Doing it from airplanes is one thing; ignoring science is an entirely sound point.

But unless you're a vegetarian, going on about the repulsiveness of people who kill animals is hypocritical.

Vegetarians who use no leather get an out here. But still may also not be the way to appeal to rural voters.

Alright, I think I've reached that point. For fuck's sake can we please stop talking about Sarah Palin?

I've been to Ely, MN more than once. Usually just passing through on the way to a lake though.

Alright, I think I've reached that point. For fuck's sake can we please stop talking about Sarah Palin?

Not until we're done shining a light on her real record, which stands in some contrast to the media/GOP image.

I don't think it's a great tactic to win more rural votes by going on about hunting, in general, as icky.

Doing it from airplanes is one thing

Exactly.


I've been to Ely, MN more than once. Usually just passing through on the way to a lake though

Dude, why the hate ;)?

Alright, I think I've reached that point. For fuck's sake can we please stop talking about Sarah Palin?

Fine. Do you have a good way to get everyone talking about Barack Obama again?

If not, talking about Sarah Palin it will be.

As for hunting, let me agree with Gary Farber: criticize shooting wolves from airplanes and complain about Palin's hostility to environmental science, but avoid cultural criticisms of hunting in general, as they are a great way to marginalize oneself politically.

As for hunting, let me agree with Gary Farber: criticize shooting wolves from airplanes and complain about Palin's hostility to environmental science, but avoid cultural criticisms of hunting in general, as they are a great way to marginalize oneself politically.

Just to be clear: I did not criticize hunting in this post, or anywhere else. Just shooting animals from airplanes - which is not hunting at all.

There is something curious about McCain/Palin's approach, with regard to the 'bridge to no where' and 'earmarks'.

Palin highlighted these two 'facts' at her introduction, both of which were disproved within minutes. Not by inference. By direct evidence.

Yet six days later, after working on and practising her speech, she repeated both of them nearly verbatim. SOmeone, apparently, really believes that we ARE that stupid.

Is it possible? This is a Peanuts script, with Lucy trying, yet again, to kick the ball...only to have Charlie...again, pull it away at the last second.

Hunting from helicopters or airplanes is right up there with shooting penned pheasant. Neither is sporting, both involve shooting things for because someone just wants to blast a living creature for the fun of it.


I say this as a hunter in a hunting family with elk in the freezer.

I especially liked this from Gary's Herald Tribune link (The Palin approach...etc) at 3:50 PM:

"Environmentalists have nicknamed Palin the "killa from Wasilla," a reference to the small town where she formerly was mayor.

"Her philosophy from our perspective is cut, kill, dig and drill," said John Toppenberg, director of the Alaska Wildlife Alliance, maintaining she is "in the Stone Age of wildlife management and is very opposed to utilizing accepted science."

I come from a family of hunters here in Missouri. I eat meat, wear leather, etc. But shooting animals from a moving vehicle (be it a truck, a car, or an airplane) is not hunting. It is 'pest control'.

But the main thing I get out of this is she will do what she wants to get what she wants. Don't like the 'scientific' answer, move control to the department that will give her a better, more agreeable answer. It sounds exactly like what the Repubs did in Missouri over the carry/conceal issue. Voters in Kansas City & St. Louis achieved the majority and voted the law down. But the Rs pushed it through without another vote.

SOmeone, apparently, really believes that we ARE that stupid.

i've been assuming all the lying is just to motivate the base who have been already primed to think the media is in the tank for Obama.

Not until we're done shining a light on her real record, which stands in some contrast to the media/GOP image.

I know, I know. It's just getting increcdibly tedious. She sucks. She supports all kinds of terrible things, and on most issues where she isn't known to support terrible things, she has no positions whatever. She's almost certainly abused her powers as governor, and now seems to be covering it up. And yet...

This election is not about Sarah Palin. No matter how much attention, positive or negative, is paid to her, it's not going to be about Sarah Palin. We've been talking about nothing but Sarah Palin non-stop for a week and a half now, and it's becoming exhausting. Sarah Palin is not going to win this election for John McCain, and if she loses it for him, it's going to come from her making a gigantic gaffe (which I think is unlikely).

She's a sideshow, and we all need to stop obsessing about her.

I'm from Alaska, and loathe Palin---it's smug, smirking god-botherers like her that make Alaska so much less livable than it could be.

But you're wildly off-base on the wolf-hunting thing. Hunting from planes is not allowed because it's recreational---and it is indeed a violation of the hunter's code (inasmuch as that isn't total horseshit, which isn't much) of "oneness with nature, red in tooth and claw."

It's done for one reason: Population control. If it were just about huntin' fun, it'd be licensed like any other hunting; instead, the state pays an actual bounty on wolves, something it certainlyu doesn't do for any other form of hunting.

The issue is that the wolves kill the moose, and the moose are a major food source for many local tribes. So the tribes want the wolf population lowered, and the state is pretty responsive to their demands. It's *not* the NRA demanding the right to hunt wolves from planes; it's the native tribes demanding that the state encourage killing of wolves by any means necessary.

So all this "Ewww, this is sadism! It's not real hunting!" is like complaining that nuclear power subsidies are bad because they do nothing to improve our educational system; it just misses the point. It's especially annoying because you're ignoring the actual issues---Does lowering the wolf population help native groups find subsistence? Is that good or bad?---in favor of blathering about hunting culture.

There's lots of real reasons to loathe Palin; let's stop making up stupid ones.

You liberal wussy, Eric, you're probably against fishing with hand-grenades too.

The issue is that the wolves kill the moose, and the moose are a major food source for many local tribes. So the tribes want the wolf population lowered, and the state is pretty responsive to their demands. It's *not* the NRA demanding the right to hunt wolves from planes; it's the native tribes demanding that the state encourage killing of wolves by any means necessary.

So all this "Ewww, this is sadism! It's not real hunting!" is like complaining that nuclear power subsidies are bad because they do nothing to improve our educational system; it just misses the point. It's especially annoying because you're ignoring the actual issues---Does lowering the wolf population help native groups find subsistence? Is that good or bad?---in favor of blathering about hunting culture.

Yeah, I think the real problem is that she's not accepting any input from scientists, who would generally try to have a big picture approach. She does what she wants, which strikes me as an immature approach.

True, but with all those caribou in AK? Even if wolves do kill an occasional moose, are the number big enough to justify this sadism?

I agree with Gary that a reasonable knock against this program is the lack of any scientific support for it. But I don't get the "sadism" angle in light of your update. How is shooting a wolf from a plane more sadistic than sitting in the bush and playing a mating call, then shooting whichever ducks show up?

If sadism is an objection, it seems to apply to hunting for sport as well.

It's done for one reason: Population control. If it were just about huntin' fun, it'd be licensed like any other hunting...

If it wasn't about hunting fun, ordinary citizens wouldn't have been doing it before Palin started offering a bounty. But they were.
The rationale may not be hunting fun, but it's a necessary component I think. Unless you'd argue that all of those plane 'hunters' were trying to look out for the tribes' food supply out of the goodness of their hearts.

Also, they'd better hope to crap that the wolves *aren't* controlling the moose numbers; if they are, and that control were to be removed by radical reduction in wolf numbers, the inevitable result would be the moose running up against another limiting factor (say, winter food), overexploiting it, and crashing their population (and causing other ecological havoc in the process).

That Fuzzy Bastard: The issue is that the wolves kill the moose, and the moose are a major food source for many local tribes. So the tribes want the wolf population lowered, and the state is pretty responsive to their demands.

It's a long-standing tradition among humans who make a living off killing a prey animal, to blame shortages of the prey animal on any predator but the humans.

Sometimes it's even true, but pest control that is based on prejudice rather than science is usually worse than useless. One would hope that what the tribes who hunt moose for food want is more moose - and one would suspect that what they don't want is assholes flying overhead blasting at running animals with guns from planes. One aspect of shooting animals from planes not discussed is that the people who do that are usually not very accurate in their slaughter.

Von: when I was working on bighorn sheep issues, I learned a little about "hunting" from the air.

It's not hunting by any reasonable meaning of the word. Planes allow the shooter to cover immense amounts of ground very quickly. The noise of the plane startles virtually all animals, so the target is bound to be flushed into movement. The pilot can use the plane to drive the target animal to exhaustion. Once the animal has stopped running, a good pilot can establish a circling pattern around the target, allowing a dead easy shot.

There's no more sport in it than Mike Tyson beating up a six-year old. But there's plenty of sadists with guns who'd love the opportunity. And once you've allowed this kind of "hunting", it's very hard politically to revoke all the permits.

Which is why, if a particular species has to be culled and the species is susceptible to airborne hunting, the appropriate course of action is to limit the culling to teams comprised of the scientists who study the species and professional hunters.

Also, they'd better hope to crap that the wolves *aren't* controlling the moose numbers; if they are, and that control were to be removed by radical reduction in wolf numbers, the inevitable result would be the moose running up against another limiting factor (say, winter food), overexploiting it, and crashing their population (and causing other ecological havoc in the process).

Hm. You know, scientists would know about that...

Im surprised that no one has brought up the Cheney "shooting zoo" story; I would think that actual hunters would be the ones most offended by this sort of thing (and the black eye it hangs on hunting in general). Usually, Im not disappointed.

von: How is shooting a wolf from a plane more sadistic than sitting in the bush and playing a mating call, then shooting whichever ducks show up?

Not a hunter, but:

Sharpshooters who kill their prey animal swiftly and accurately are not sadistic - certainly not when they kill with the intent of eating what they kill.

Someone flying overhead trying to kill as many wolves in a pack as they can is unlikely to be particularly accurate, and will certainly inflict more terror on the animals they kill than someone who successfully stalks and kills from the ground.

(Red deer in the Highlands of Scotland are an ecological pest, thanks to the absence of any predator but humans - I have frequently surprised people who assume a vegetarian will have a knee-jerk opposition to all hunting by explaining why yes, I agree red deer have to be killed, and that I think the least cruel means of doing so is for skilled hunters to track and kill the deer with a single shot.)

There has to be a way to make a gut-wrenching TV ad from this issue. Make her defend it after showing the images of wolves being gunned down from the air. I think it would devastating visually.

Fuzzy - How did the Aleuts compete with the wolves for food/prey animals *before* there were airplanes from which to hunt?

How do they handle it on the Canadian side of the border? I have no knowledge, but I'd guess the provincial authorities don't issue hunting-from-the-air permits to random individuals.

"One would hope that what the tribes who hunt moose for food want is more moose - and one would suspect that what they don't want is assholes flying overhead blasting at running animals with guns from planes."

You're saying you think they're going to confuse a moose with a wolf?

Rather than suspecting, how about coming up with a cite of tribal spokespeople objecting?

And hit it?

This seems considerably implausible, unless they're using grenade launchers.

"Rather than suspecting, how about coming up with a cite of tribal spokespeople objecting?"

Oops. That was supposed to be my final sentence, but somehow the cursor moved.

How is shooting a wolf from a plane more sadistic than sitting in the bush and playing a mating call, then shooting whichever ducks show up?

Hunting that is done for the pure enjoyment of killing the animal is pretty sadistic - unless there is an element of a challenge involved and one could point to that as the would be pay-off.

When you add the utter lack of sport involved in shooting wolves from an airplane to the fact that the wolves are not being used as a food source, then I think you're pretty much attracting sadists and sadists alone.

slaughtering animals from airplanes is a sadistic practice that should not be confused with actual hunting

But bow hunting from hang gliders is totally bad ass.

But she was going to pay them to do it; We're not talking sadistic here, we're talking "mercenary".

Strictly speaking, it's sadism to take pleasure in another's suffering; For the most part, even lousy hunters at worst are indifferent to that suffering, and so can't really be considered sadists.

Using a knife would be fairer, to be sure.

There has to be a way to make a gut-wrenching TV ad from this issue. Make her defend it after showing the images of wolves being gunned down from the air. I think it would devastating visually.

Only to people who care about wolves. To the average video-game player, it would be kewl, and to rural folk that use of the imagery would enliven their sense of outrage at urban elites who force them to give up guns, stop developing, stop hunting, and care about nature more than people. Before you know it, we're arguing about logging and spotted owls. We never win that fight. Argue that it's stupid policy, not that it's mean.

When you add the utter lack of sport involved in shooting wolves from an airplane to the fact that the wolves are not being used as a food source, then I think you're pretty much attracting sadists and sadists alone.

I'd guess that you'll get some trophy hunters, too. I would think that the trophy would be devalued if you got it in such an unsporting fashion, but obviously they didn't ask me. Maybe they'll show off their wolf skin and brush off exactly how they got it.

It’s definitely not hunting. But a cull is a cull. Once it’s decided that a cull is needed it hardly makes a difference whether it is done from a plane. The bounty business seems like a PR gimmick – how much AVGAS do you get these days for $150?

It’s long been a divisive question in the state. And they started shooting them from airplanes in 1948, so this is nothing new. Like many things in Alaska, some things are just easiest done by plane.

IMO the plane aspect and the bounty aren’t the issue and just sidetrack from the real question: Is a cull necessary? If yes, then carrying it out in the most efficient manner makes sense. But it seems like Alaskans have been sharply divided on the question for a long time.

I’m not sure you’ve made the case that she’s anti-science. (How many scientists in a “raft” anyway?) If you showed that the 172 letter signers were biologists directly involved with wildlife management that would carry some weight. If they are just concerned scientists of various occupations who are not directly involved – not so much. Where hunting does come into this, is with the sustenance hunters, and surely their opinions should carry some weight. IMO it carries a lot of weight.

Based on this 2007 article:

-It was the Department of Fish and Game that came up with the bounty.
-A judged halted the bounty program before any was ever paid.
-The game board asked Palin to let state biologists shoot wolves from helicopters but they never did as it is too expensive.

And on this: “she introduced state legislation that would further divorce the predator-control program from science” – based on a quick look at the state constitution I don’t see introducing legislation as being within the governor’s authority. I’m not familiar enough with my own state government, much less Alaska’s, so I could well be wrong on that.

In any case this is just too easy to spin as just being supportive of hunters so I don’t think it would get much traction.

Or – after preview – what That Fuzzy Bastard said.

I have no opinion on this, other than that the decision whether to have a cull should be based on science, and that the more the cullers are people who can really shoot a rifle accurately, and the fewer are the kinds of people who can't but think shooting a moose from an airplane would be fun, the better.

That said, I thought this was funny. ;)

I think that Obama supporters should stay far, far away from this. We want to win Wisconsin, remember? And Michigan! Out there hunting is basically a religion.

Real hunters know that this isn't hunting. It's a SERVICE to real hunters. It's a precaution to make sure there will be lots of elk.

Not tracking the wolf populations scientifically is bad, but it's not something we want to make a big deal about. I guarantee, there are other things Gov. Palin is unscientific about that would be better to highlight.

And I am a vegetarian who goes to great lengths to minimize the use of leather!

Michigan born and bred here, a half century and counting. I'm an outdoors type, live in the country and I hunt since I like to get some venison in the freezer before winter. I am disgusted by Sarah Palin's backward attitudes, her shooting wolves from airplanes and her willingness to dispense with science when it comes to matters of the environment. In short, she IS a bridge to nowhere.

I'm with capelza. We live in a community where hunting is a part of the culture and heritage. We, ourselves, are not hunters. But what is sporting about hunting a wild animal with high tech planes, weapons, etc.? We once ridiculed the Soviets for hunting wild animals with heat seeking missles. Are we now any different?

"We once ridiculed the Soviets for hunting wild animals with heat seeking missles."

I don't remember doing that, myself.

But I am terribly forgetful, to be sure.

This posting and others like it remind me of how the Clinton campaign and McCain's until last week tried and tried to get people to understand how Obama just did not have enough "experience" for anyone to seriously consider him for the presidency. From their vantage point, they could not see how anyone could seriously look at their records and not see that they were far better than Obama. Yet, Obama kept winning votes regardless of what they said about his "experience," and they just couldn’t stop themselves from trying to “educate” all those people who just couldn’t get it.

I can't help but notice the same myopia when it comes to how many people are spending a whole lot of time trying to convince others of Palin’s faults. Just as Clinton failed to convince anyone about Obama’s lack of “experience,” so will people fail to convince anyone about the faults of Palin with such posts. Think about it. How much time has the McCain camp spent trying to convince anyone, one way or another, about Biden’s record? They understand the simple fact that he is not at the top of the ticket.

What articles about Palin should focus on is how her pick as VP highlights something about McCain that will make his presidency a bad thing for America or why the Obama/Biden ticket is much, much better than the McCain/Palin ticket. That is, only bring up Palin in connection with McCain, and to tell us something we should know about McCain that should make us not want to vote for him. Palin is not at the top of the ticket, so let’s focus on the top of the ticket, McCain…who would truly be a bad nightmare for America, in my opinion.

If you showed that the 172 letter signers were biologists directly involved with wildlife management that would carry some weight. If they are just concerned scientists of various occupations who are not directly involved – not so much.

Insert snarky comment about scientists who don't believe in global warming and how credible you find them here.

Nana, I think you're exactly right. Palin by herself is a distraction, a head fake, a waste of time. Her usefulness is in demonstrating McCain's weaknesses.

"On the other hand, slaughtering animals from airplanes is a sadistic practice that should not be confused with actual hunting."

Yep. I am a hunter and a gun rights advocate, but this sickens me. It is disgraceful and sadistic. Don't even get me started on the theocon bullsh*t over denying basic science...like evolution.

*sigh*

What the frak happened to the Republican Party? When did we get taken over by James Dobson clones? Beats me. I stick around as a protest( I am a GLBT person...and that drives many of them nuts...heh!), since they can't make me leave.

OT: Under her administration, Wasilla used to charge rape victims for their forensic exams? That's just hateful. Cite (from 2000):

"The new law makes it illegal for any law enforcement agency to bill victims or victims insurance companies for the costs of examinations that take place to collect evidence of a sexual assault or determine if a sexual assault did occur.

We would never bill the victim of a burglary for fingerprinting and photographing the crime scene, or for the cost of gathering other evidence, Knowles said. Nor should we bill rape victims just because the crime scene happens to be their bodies.

While the Alaska State Troopers and most municipal police agencies have covered the cost of exams, which cost between $300 to $1,200 apiece, the Wasilla police department does charge the victims of sexual assault for the tests."

I'm not sure there is a consensus in this country that policy decisions like whether to cull the wolf herds should be made primarily on scientific grounds. After all, if the voters want the herds culled, shouldn't they get their wish. Now I think that rational approaches to policy design are the way to go, but that doesn't seem to be a popular idea in this country. Having a drink with the President or going Moose hunting with the governor seems much more important: who needs science when they feel correctness in their guts?

I gotta agree that Palin is a distraction, and we're letting them get away with it. As a misdirection tapping her as the VP candidate might be a brilliant ploy. Except after they win the election they gotta govern. I'm putting all my hopes in a heavily Democratic Congress that shows plenty of backbone to stand up to President McCain...What? You don't think that will work?

Oh, and Eric, I also grew up in Northern MN, though a little south of Ely.

OT: Under her administration, Wasilla used to charge rape victims for their forensic exams? That's just hateful.

I hate to break it to you, Hilzoy, but that was state policy in North Carolina until a couple of weeks ago. (Stories on this broke earlier this year and the legislature was sufficiently abashed to alter the policy, which had apparently been based primarily on thoughtless budget-squeezing rather than "punish-the-rape-victim" thinking as such.)

I agree it's a horrible policy, but I don't think it's one we should try to tie to Palin in particular.

The only reason this is a loser for Democrats is that they can't peel off voters. The historical stance on guns has so poisoned the relationship with hunters and other outdoors people that, even though they get it right on the environment, they have this black cloud hanging over them, while all the Republicans have to do is say that they're a hunter, and suddenly they become an "environmentalist", even though it's people like Cheney that encourage and abet the extractive industries in what they do. (Coal-seam natural gas anyone?)

The only way this is a real winner is for it to be linked with the environmental policies that the Bush government has implemented, and is still encouraging, and maybe linked with things like Cheney's canned hunts and "peppering" of hunting partners. In all honesty, that really did have an impact on most hunters I know, and could have made greater inroads had Democrats found someone like Barry Schweitzer to make that point, repeatedly.

"...and could have made greater inroads had Democrats found someone like Barry Schweitzer to make that point, repeatedly."

I'm guessing you mean Brian Schweitzer.

could have made greater inroads had Democrats found someone like Barry Brian Schweitzer to make that point, repeatedly.

I would like to see Schweitzer go up to Alaska and campaign for Obama. Talk about the bond that Montanans and Alaskans have to nature and then have him identify the same weaknesses with Republican/conservative philosophy that got him elected.

What articles about Palin should focus on is how her pick as VP highlights something about McCain that will make his presidency a bad thing for America

I thought this initially, but the problem is, how much of the US electorate is interested in the process of making a decision rather than the decision itself? Do most people care about anything other than the outcome?

There seem to be a lot of people who think Sarah Palin is a Good Thing and therefore it doesn't matter whether John McCain picked her after exhaustive scrutiny or by throwing darts at a map of the US. Thinking about correct methods is (I suspect) something that only Liberal Elitists (or Conservative Elitists) do. To most Americans, does it actually matter whether you get the answer in a quiz right because you know it or because you were a lucky guesser, as long as you get the prize?

One of the main reasons I do not hunt* (the others are cost and lack of game in a big city) is that it would be about the joy of killing for me (do not install a house bar in the lodging of a dry alcoholic). I can respect hunters that are able to suppress that instinct but I fear they are the minority these days, making this issue a non-starter electionwise. Wolves are also the victims of an age-old smear campaign (think Little Red Riding Hood). The linked ad, ending with "Do You?" could actually backfire for that reason.
As for using heat-seeking missiles, I think this would be popular with people that can afford it (as would hand grenades, gatling guns, napalm etc.). Hey, I think there would be a market for man hunting too (like "shoot an immigrant"). Sloppy sentimentality is out of place when dealing with humanity#s darker side.
I nonetheless propose sewing Palin into wolfskins and issuing a werewolf warning with a 666$ award (+ rebate for spent silver bullets) ;-(

*I fish (salt water) on vacation though, provided someone else does the gutting (and the cooking. I do the eating). Let's better not talk about pool fishing contests. People doing that belong waterboarded to hell (worse than trophy hunters imo).

Hilzoy: While the Alaska State Troopers and most municipal police agencies have covered the cost of exams, which cost between $300 to $1,200 apiece, the Wasilla police department does charge the victims of sexual assault for the tests."

....I'm speechless.

Gary Farber, re: your comments earlier: For the record, I'm a vegan who doesn't wear leather. Here's what I've noticed:

A few months ago I wrote a short post on Obama's comments on animal rights. It became a mild hit on Google, with visitors coming in approximately once every two days searching for Obama/animal rights. Recently, I've had several hits a day on that search topic, sometimes one or more an hour.

I see comments like, "I wasn't supporting either candidate--pox on both their houses, but now I'm supporting Obama."

It's a very small demographic, to be sure, but it's one more segment of the liberal base that's moving toward Obama because of the Palin pick. Plus,I know lots of animal lovers--vegetarians, shelter workers, who vote Republican. They won't be thrilled with this sort of thing, either. On the other hand, Obama's anti-cruelty message is one that resonates with animal lovers, and I believe most Americans fit that description.

-- I killed over fifty wolves! That ain't no shit, neither?
-- Any cubs?
-- Yeah! Some!
-- How can you shoot little cubs?
-- Easy! You just don't lead them as much!

Well, instead of working, I've been reading about wolf predation on moose populations. Apparently,

Prime-age moose are too dangerous to approach, he said. Moose commonly stand and pugnaciously face the wolves, which take the cue and leave. To my knowledge, no one has ever observed wolves killing a moose that did not run when first confronted by its predators. The front legs of a 900-pound moose are formidable weapons. Dr. Peterson described an old and blind moose that stood its ground against a pack of wolves for three days until the predators decided to look elsewhere.

It is also interesting that it is not wolves that are the problem, but bears

Black bears have been found to be the most important predator of moose calves in some areas of Alaska where grizzly bears are uncommon. In these areas, black bears killed about 40% of all moose calves that were born. Most predation was by adult males.

Biologists expect that significant reductions in bear numbers (either black or grizzly or both) will also lead to higher numbers of moose for harvest. For example, in areas of Canada and the northern states where moose coexist only with wolves, moose are often found at high densities that fluctuate with weather and habitat (e.g. Isle Royale).

Also, this

This story notes that the program is a combination of wolf and bear control

It is also noted that wolves will go for sicker, weaker moose. Unfortunately, I imagine you can't flush out bear and get the same thrill shooting them on the run.

This legislation is also interesting, and I note the following:

The Alaska legislature has been working to pass legislation that would prohibit Alaskans from voting on wildlife issues. It has been reported that Governor Palin has already received 10,000 e-mails condemning the legislation.[7]

The legislature is trying to hurry through Alaska House Bill 348 and Senate Bills 176, HB 256 which would define the Alaska wildlife as an "asset" and therefore make the initiative defunct. The bills are strongly back by the Alaska Outdoor Council which receives financial backing from the Safari Club and the NRA.[8]

Safari Club International, which describes itself as the largest and most active big game hunting organization in the world, is the main contributor to Alaskans for Professional Wildlife Management, spearheading the opposition.[4]

"I would like to see Schweitzer go up to Alaska and campaign for Obama."

The obvious problem with that, is that you might want Schweitzer for higher office some time in the future, and Obama's recorded views on gun control are sufficiently radioactive that, were Schweitzer to spend much time defending him, you might end up tearing down Schweitzer's rep, rather than building up Obama's.

There is, after all, a standing concern among gun owners that even nominally pro-gun Democrats are a bad political bet, because when push comes to shove, they end up going along with the gun controllers in their party.

Gun control isn't an issue that can be easily finessed, and, let's face it, the Democratic party threw away a lot of hard work trying to live down it's past gun control efforts when it picked one of the most radical gun grabbers in national office to be it's standard bearer. You're just going to have to live with that mistake, and try to overcome it, there's no undoing it during this campaign.

Can't remember that this was somehow about gun control. But we have not yet heard of the pilot lobby that is going to miss some profit, should the use of aeroplanes for hunting purposes be limited. Btw, are fighters or bombers more suitable for adequate wolf decimation? I guess cluster bombs could do wonders about wolf packs (and the duds could keep the area clean of survivors too). There's just the problem of collecting the left forelegs without losing your own.

Phil: Insert snarky comment about scientists who don't believe in global warming and how credible you find them here.

Actually, that was exactly my point. But I had no intention of derailing the thread into GW. “Concerned scientists” or “rafts of scientists” or “scientists say” – these phrases meant to portray broad consensus based on science have lost credibility due to their misuse in the GW (non) debate.

And I’m not going to get into any more of that in this thread – I just felt I should respond to your comment.

Well, Brett, yes, on a campaign stop on the stump in Alaska (which would probably get shown on the local news in Montana so it would be a twofer), Schweitzer's going to have to take lots and lots of questions about gun control. I mean, at other campaign events by everyone I can think of, it's a 5 minute speech, followed by 2 hours of Q and A. This is why the McCain campaign doesn't have to worry about making Palin available for interviews, she's getting grilled on the ole campaign trail.

BTW, I note that you can't say anything about Schweitzer's position on gun control (who's comment on the topic was "I guess I kind of believe in gun control: You control your gun, and I'll control mine," but he's not going to work for you NRA types cause he's got a sense of humor about it), and the Dems making room in the tent for someone like Schweitzer is something you just don't seem to notice. So you are left with arguing that he has to defend Obama's record.

And it is curious that you don't say a word about McCain's gun control record, even though he has had his own problems with the NRA. (The link is a just for you special, Brett, tell me it reeks of liberal bias)

Funny how you are happy to accept McCain's hypocrisy. Yeah, I know, you are a Barr guy, so why don't you tell us about his A+ rating from the NRA instead of try to drag everyone else's discussion into a rant on your opinion of Obama's position. Is it that you think Obama will win, so you don't want to deal with the fact that McCain is using the NRA (and you) like used kleenex? Strange how your comments seem to never get around to talking about that. At least Christians of the evangelical right can say they are taking things on faith, but your excuse for bowing to Führerprinzip doesn't have that excuse.

magistra: To most Americans, does it actually matter whether you get the answer in a quiz right because you know it or because you were a lucky guesser, as long as you get the prize?

The latter, based on two (admittedly unusual) observations: American football announcers and conversations with conservatives in late 2003/early 2004 on the question of WMD in Iraq. For the former, there's almost never such a thing as luck: if something works, it's genius, if something fails, you were a dumb-ass for even trying. [Contrast with soccer, where I've heard announcers freely talk about a lucky bounce or deflection.] For the latter, no-one seemed able to comprehend my basic point that even if Saddam had turned out to have WMD, Bush should still not be exonerated because it had been made painfully clear that he had had no evidence of their existence (and so any WMD found would have essentially been dumb luck). The counter-argument was simple: if Saddam had WMD, then Bush was right, end of story; process and method be damned.

re: commercial on this. I disagree that it would not be effective. There already were testimonials of people whose children convinced them to vote for Obama. I guarantee you a lot of budding environmentalists in the age 9 to 13 bracket would begin haranguing their parents about this. Wolves are almost up there with whales and polar bears.

Gun control isn't an issue that can be easily finessed, and, let's face it, the Democratic party threw away a lot of hard work trying to live down its past gun control efforts when it picked one of the most radical gun grabbers in national office to be its standard bearer. You're just going to have to live with that mistake, and try to overcome it, there's no undoing it during this campaign.

Wow, Brett, so gun control must be some kind of really extremist minority position that isn't supported by most Americans and that's what makes it an electoral liability?

Wrong!

http://www.harrisinteractive.com/harris_poll/index.asp?PID=471
http://www.pollingreport.com/guns.htm

In fact, stricter gun control has got (narrow) majority support. It's actually slightly more popular than Barack Obama is!

Well, how about that?

What exactly did Obama do on the issue of gun conrol that is readioactive and amounts to gun grabbing? What law passed or proposed?

I'm asking because there is an awful lot of hysteria on this issue. People have discounted wait times as gun grabbing or discounted background checks to prevent felons convicted of violent crimes or mentally ill people from buying guns as gun grabbing.

Its a very effective bully tactic--oppose every gun control initiative as extreme or gun grabbing. So what exactly did Obama advocate, please?

A question of logistics: How on earth do they claim the wolf bounty (sawing off a paw) when hunting from planes?

Yes Gary, Brian, not Barry. Posting on 5 hours of sleep after an hour of statistics homework can do that to you. I'm surprised that's the only mistake I made (if it is).

A question of logistics: How on earth do they claim the wolf bounty (sawing off a paw) when hunting from planes?

Who cares?

You get to shoot! At wolves! From planes!

Fats asked: How on earth do they claim the wolf bounty (sawing off a paw) when hunting from planes?

From accounts by those who have witnessed the aftermath of such "hunts", what they do is try to drive a large group of the animals they are after on to a clear surface like a frozen lake: they circle the group, shooting with automatic weapons until every animal in the group is dead.

They then land on the ice, and either the "hunters" or their employees cut off whatever bits of the animals are wanted. The remainder is left on the ice. As I noted upthread, this method of "hunting" results in terrific overkill, often of species the hunters aren't licenced to kill - and the only record the "hunters" will provide is the bits they chose to hack off and bring back. If hunting moose from a plane is popular enough, the pest control* to protect moose ought to be aimed at the hunters with automatic weapons and aircraft, not the hunters with paws and fur.

*I mean that in the nicest possible, least vicious way. Just take away the pilot's license of anyone who transports hunters for that purpose.

I'd like to offer a few observations that I didn't see skimming through the comments:

1. We have all agreed that this is not hunting, this is strictly a cull done for economic reasons -- we want to provide the tribes with enough moose meat. OK, let's give them moose meat. It would surely be cheaper to raise moose the same way we raise cattle, feed them corn, fatten them up, kill and butcher them, and hand the meat over to the tribes, than to go through all the effort of culling wolves, hunting moose, etc. Hunting meat is not economically viable. There are arguments in favor of hunting but the economic arguments are excuses, not reasons.

2. Culling is ultimately a much larger operation than many people appreciate. The population of any species will expand until it is in balance with the food supply. If you have a huge food supply, then the wolf population will always be experiencing rapid growth rates. Culling efforts only work if you maintain them as a permanent operation.

3. By introducing strong selection effects, all you do is generate rapid evolutionary change. Wolves who are more sensitive to the noise of an airplane -- and you can hear one miles away -- and immediately take cover will rapidly be selected for. It won't take many generations for wolves to adapt to the new environment; and wolf generations are two to three years long.

You can't beat Mother Nature. As we have learned in my area, the smart response to mountain lion predation is to use dogs to teach them where the off-limits areas are, not kill them.

4. Remember, wolves don't take out healthy adult moose. They go after the old, the weak, and the young. The first two groups are of no value to the tribes, because they might carry disease. Only the third group has any economic value. Do we have any data on what the mortality rate of young moose to wolves is? I doubt it.

Please don't step on any butterflies.

That's a reference to a book or story, I think. You wouldn't happen to recall which, would you? If so, please share, because otherwise it's going to bother me all day long.

Regarding wolf-hunting from the air, I don't know that I'd be reflexively against that. Obviously it's not hunting, but neither is what croc hunters do.

Whether it's truly necessary and desirable to cut down on the wolf population is another question; I have no idea. I'd be interested in what degree the wolf population is larger than someone thinks it ought to be, and why. I'd also be interested in whether this wolf-extermination is being encouraged simply to make game a bit more plentiful for the game hunters.

As it is, it looks a little like a government-sanctioned enactment of Never Cry Wolf, only without the beer and scientist.

Slarti: That's a reference to a book or story, I think. You wouldn't happen to recall which, would you? If so, please share, because otherwise it's going to bother me all day long.

I was going to tell you it was a story by Ray Bradbury and the anthology I remembered reading it in, even though I couldn't recall the title, but I find - oddly enough! - wikipedia has more: and the title is A Sound of Thunder.

. It would surely be cheaper to raise moose the same way we raise cattle, feed them corn, fatten them up, kill and butcher them, and hand the meat over to the tribes, than to go through all the effort of culling wolves, hunting moose, etc.

This introduces diseases, genetic or otherwise, into the local wild populations that can have a greater detrimental effect than even overhunting. Chronic-wasting disease in wild elk is almost certainly the result of states allowing elk farms for trophy "hunters". And moose are not herd animals like elk are. Trying to raise moose in large numbers would lead to artificial selection of certainly animals that if they were allowed to interbreed with wild populations could adversely affect their long term as a populations. We have no idea if there are communicable diseases in moose populations that don't decimate them simply because they don't congregate in groups.

I thought I'd stay out of this because I generally question the need to cull wolves. I used to hunt moose and caribou when I lived in Alaska. I mean, where else can you get organically fed meat with 133% the protein of beef with almost no fat that taste's great? It took my kids a while to get used to calling beef "beef" instead of moose after we moved from Alaska.

But I was more of a harvester. Didn't care about the rack or have a desire to kill. Moose are magnificent animals, especially the alces alces gigas we have in Alaska.

So here's my perspective: Alaskans eat a lot more moose and fish and game in general (by far) than the typical person. You have to realize: an adult bull moose can weigh 1800 lbs., which means 900 lbs. of meat. It can feed a large family for a year in terms of meat. For those of you eating beef, you might consider complaining about the coyote culls (and bounties) that are and have been a regular part of the beef producing states for decades. Or for heaven's sake, go visit a feed lot. Then tell the Alaskans that the cull is less humane than what occurs every day all across the country. Only vegetarians get an out here, folks!

Native Alaskans traditionally live on Moose and fish. And it can be a spiritual thing. Simply providing Moose as Chris suggests would be demeaning and never cut it. Not all native hunters are this way, but that doesn't change that there are many who feel that way.

And there has been a fierce debate over wolves for many, many years. This is an old debate. I'm not a biologist or a scientist. Scientists on both sides claim to have support for their positions. Gordon Haber, cited above, is known to me. The firm I worked for in Alaska had a Native Alaskan client that was a subsistence trapper. Haber freed a wolf caught in a snare and filmed the whole thing making it look like something it wasn't (the wolf lived three weeks but eventually died because Haber didn't remove the snare from around its leg; it would have been more humane to have left the wolf where it was). A jury awarded the client around $200,000 against Haber and Friends of Animals.

I don't remember the exact details, but it was clear to me that Haber was willing to twist the truth to push his cause. It was comical to see him distance himself from the group that was funding him simply to avoid a monetary judgment against Friends of Animals. So, IMHO (and nothing more) I would take anything Haber says with a grain of salt. I don't question his commitment to wolves, only the degree to which he will go to protect their interests (i.e. lie). He certainly had no respect for the trapper and had no qualms about making a public mockery of him.



MattH, I'm not talking about letting the domestic moose run wild -- I'm talking about raising them the same way we raise cattle: small fenced pastures and grain feeding. You don't want them mixing with wild populations -- they'd run away!

Better yet, just give the tribes beef. That would still be cheaper than the system in place now.

bc writes Simply providing Moose as Chris suggests would be demeaning and never cut it.

So instead we simply provide them with expensive culling services? And that's not demeaning? Either way, they're getting their food at the expense of the state, but my proposal would likely be cheaper.

So instead we simply provide them with expensive culling services?

Isn't that the point of the bounty? it would be far more expensive to have fish and game do it. given gas prices, the lure of a pelt isn't enough, so they add a few bucks. From a purely economic standpoint, the bounty makes sense. Kind of like qui tam actions or civil rico.

bc: Isn't that the point of the bounty? it would be far more expensive to have fish and game do it. given gas prices, the lure of a pelt isn't enough, so they add a few bucks.

Depends what the objective is.

- If it's to protect moose to ensure big herds for the locals to kill for food, then it needs to be shown that a cull of wolves would help, and it needs to be shown what the best method of culling wolves is. As noted above by someone else, the best moose for humans to kill for food are the very animals that wolves are unlkely to be able to kill, so the first premise seems unlikely, and the second premise (that shooting wolves from a plane is the best method of conducting a cull) seems unlikely. But I'm certainly prepared to accept the results of proper scientific research, when/if some is done.

- If it's to encourage people to kill wolves and compensate them for the gas they expend in flying planes to where they can kill wolves, I guess the question I would want to know is - why are people being encouraged to kill wolves - given that we have already established that it doesn't seem to have very much to do with protecting moose.

Jes: As an aside, I was a bit surprised that your responses lack that certain irony of the pro-choice turned pro-life when it comes to hunting. Your responses here are consistent. (and yes, it's not lost on me that there is a certain irony in reverse; only that irony is not the same degree if one considers human life inherently more valuable than animal life).

the title is A Sound of Thunder.

Ah. Thanks for taking my brain off the endless wondering-what-the-hell-that-was merrygoround, Jesurgislac. You have my slowly-dying gratitude.

Chris, the point is, they don't stay penned, no matter how hard they try, and that's not even considering that in that case we were talking about elk, a herd animal, not moose, which are pretty much solitary animals. There's a reason certain animals never can be domesticated, and moose are certainly not a good candidate.

Game farms are such a hazard to wild populations, that Montana and Wyoming both outlawed them, Wyoming in 1975. The only reason they exist is for the trophy hunters, who willingly pay $6,000 for a canned hunt, or to sell the meat to grocery stores and restaurants. But don't doubt that most of the money comes from the hunts, and that the large sums the farmers/ranchers get turn quite quickly into lobbying fees when they get threatened.

Depends what the objective is.

I agree. The caribou herd that was (as I understand it) one of the main reasons for stepping up the control efforts has already made a recovery because predation was taking out the calves (something like only 4-5 were surviving each year and this year 80).

And the herd in question was one relied on by native alaskans. That's where the question gets a bit hard. This isn't just about hunting but about those that subsist.

Here is a link about the suit bc was talking about. It seems a little more nuanced.

and moose are certainly not a good candidate.

I watched a cow moose in my front yard jump a five foot fence from a standstill.

bc: As an aside, I was a bit surprised that your responses lack that certain irony of the pro-choice turned pro-life when it comes to hunting. Your responses here are consistent.

My key interest when I was a teenager was zoology/ecology. I'm a vegetarian, not an idiot - if a cull is needed, it's needed. My point is that badly-done culls result in bad results, the same as any other flailing around in the ecosystem would.

Also, I find deliberate cruelty to animals offensive: I don't find swift humane killing offensive.

It seems a little more nuanced.

I would expect no less from the animal rights side. I called the attorney in my former firm but he was out moose hunting (September 1 -20 doesn't mean the same now that I'm out of Alaska).

I remember that Johnson said he would have just shot the wolf upon finding it alive in his snare but Haber let it die a less humane death.

And where are all the moose lovers out there? Why do wolves get all the love?

Is it technically a cull, if you can kill off any and all? I thought a cull was killing off the weaker specimens.

bc, two points
First, the post seems to be taken from two newspaper articles, so you may be a little quick to claim bias.

Second, if you are correct and the Fairbanks Daily News and The Associated Press do exhibit a bias towards animal rights, the position you claim is majority might not be so much.

And where are all the moose lovers out there? Why do wolves get all the love?

It is not a matter of wolf love, it is a matter of proper game management. To follow up on Slarti's point, killing wolf from airplanes is not a cull, because you are not killing the weaker specimens (unless you are looking for some anti-aircraft genetic ability) and giving $150 for the paws seems to underline how unscientific the whole thing is.

OK, mattH, let's proceed from your note that moose can't be penned. That means that we give the tribes beef instead of moose meat, and even cheaper solution. Let me make a rough stab at the costs here:

On the moose side, let's assume that the average tribal family of four requires a ton of moose meat per year (1.5 pounds per person per day); let's then say that this requires three moose carcasses. Let's further assume that the tribal population is stable and, but for wolf predation, would be in balance with the moose population at this time. How many wolves do we need to kill to save three moose from predation? First, we have to make an adjustment for the fact that the wolves will kill some moose that the tribal people wouldn't want -- sick or injured animals. Let's assume -- yes, I know I'm making a lot of assumptions here -- that half of the moose that the wolves kill are sick or injured. So that means we have to kill enough wolves to save six moose per year. How many wolves does one moose carcass feed for a year? Let's assume the same metabolic rates for both wolves and humans, and let's assume that the average wolf weighs one-third as much as the average human. That means that one moose will feed three times as many wolves as humans. Ah, but humans are omnivorous, and wolves feed primarily on moose, so let's lower the ratio to two. On the other hand, wolves eat much more of the moose carcass than humans do, so I'll bump it back up to three. Hence, we need to kill three wolves to supply the tribal people with enough moose meat for one person per year. The bounty alone would cost $450. But the bounty doesn't cover all the costs of the cull; I'll bump it up to $600 (quite arbitrarily) to reflect the fact that there are additional social costs not covered by the bounty. Then there are the costs of hunting and butchering the moose. Assuming a low wage for the hunters, the net cost come to maybe $700 per person per year.

Now, how much would it cost to supply a person with 500 pounds of beef for one year? About $1000. So I conclude from this rough calculation that it is in fact cheaper to cull the wolves than supply the tribes with beef. I therefore reverse my position.

"That's a reference to a book or story, I think. You wouldn't happen to recall which, would you? If so, please share, because otherwise it's going to bother me all day long."

A Sound Of Thunder.

Sorry; sometimes I forget everyone hasn't memorized this stuff since the age of 7.

Thanks, Gary. My memory isn't what it used to be.

Maybe it never was; I can't remember.

bc: And where are all the moose lovers out there? Why do wolves get all the love?

The moose lovers are nursing bruises in tender parts of their anatomy.

More seriously, people who care about the welfare of the moose herds - as opposed to the welfare of the humans who eat moose! - will value the wolves because, in a properly balanced ecology where moose and wolf populations are stable in number, the wolf packs are as essential to the wellbeing of the moose herds, as the moose herds are to the wolf packs.

The welfare of the people for whom moose meat is an essential and irreplacable source of protein is also important to me. If a controlled cull of wolf packs ensures a surplus of moose to be killed - likewise in controlled numbers - by humans who then make full use of the moose meat, this would be a good thing - human manipulation of the ecology ensuring survival of moose, wolves, and humans.

What no one has managed to convince me of is that controlled culling of wolf packs equates in any way to paying a bounty to "hunters" who shoot wolves in large numbers from planes.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad