Numerous comments to the previous blog, “Last breeding grizzly sow killed at Hatcher Pass in defense of her cubs…” expressed outrage and disgust at the four people (there could have been as many as six!) who used snowmachines to run down and shoot a bear with cubs.
But this about a lot more than just a few “illegal” hunters.” The State itself kills hundreds of bears---plus cubs of any age! Here’s something to really get sick and angry about: the State of Alaska is actively promoting and indulging in the mass killing of wolves and bears by means far more cruel and deadly than the fate suffered by the mother grizzly at Hatcher Pass.
Apparently some readers don’t fully understand the State’s orgy of variously-named “intensive predator control” programs---including the happy-sounding “abundance management.” You know, where wolves are shot from aircraft and their pups left to die in dens or gassed to death. Where mass killings of wolves and bears by private hunters and trappers are encouraged and facilitated.
The State’s bear-snaring program is even more brutal than its wolf-killing programs. Just ratchet up the suffering of the Hatcher Pass grizzly, kill her cubs...and then multiply by a thousand times to get some idea of how the State of Alaska is torturing great numbers of wild animals with slow, lingering deaths.
THE BAIT AND SNARE -
The Hatcher Pass mother grizzly died a relatively quick and merciful death compared to thousands of other bears and wolves in Alaska who perish wantonly at the hands of the State. The Hatcher Pass cubs---while deprived of their mother---were at least left alive. Had this been a State of Alaska bear-snaring operation the cubs would have been shot first as they ran about in panic while their mother thrashed around with her foot caught in a snare. With a sow grizzly snared, the cubs often go crazy and must be shot first and then the mother.
Naturally, a bear caught in a snare pulls frantically to free itself. Fans of the snare claim the wire is not painful…if the bears don't struggle too much! But both blacks and grizzlies have maimed themselves in the grip of the wire. Black bears grunt and moan like a human crying. During the State’s black bear snaring program at least three accidentally-snared grizzlies had to be “euthanized” because of their injuries. Now grizzlies are specifically targeted in Unit 16 “in preparation for extending it to other areas in Alaska…” (see my blog - June 9, 2011 - “State’s snaring and killing of grizzlies is an ‘experiment‘…to see how much wildlife carnage Alaskans will bear”).
Of course, putting snared bears and cubs (and wolves) out of their misery would depend on how long the “trappers” waited before actually returning to the site. “Dead-Horse-Walking” trapper, Coke Wallace, waited a week before checking his snares where the last reproducing female wolf of a Denali Park pack was “scavenged” by a wolverine---thus leaving him with nothing but sadistic joy. Regarding a previous, also collared, alpha female trapped by Mr. Wallace: "A necropsy revealed that the alpha female sat in Coke's trap for 10 days to two weeks, eating dirt and rocks. She lost 15 percent of her body weight and broke all of her teeth.” At that time Mr. Wallace stuck a pistol in that dead wolf‘s mouth and flaunted it for the benefit of late Denali wolf biologist Gordon Haber, who was studying this wolf pack.
All this is legal---the State doesn’t even require the common decency of checking traps and snares until maybe the end of the season. Wallace called what was left of the latest female Denali wolf carcass “emaciated” (surprise!)---as if he were doing her a favor by torturing her to death after shooting a horse and leaving the carcass to lure her from the Park.
But that’s just one sadistic trapper! When it comes to torturing bears and committing wildlife genocide the State of Alaska has no peer! No wonder hunters and trappers feel free to wantonly slaughter wildlife just for the fun of it, legally or not. There are many hunters who claim they are killing wild animals because they are “pests” and “vermin“---vehemently denying that they just love to kill. One guy actually told me he kills ground squirrels in Alaska because gopher holes break horses’ legs in Texas! When the State classifies bears as vermin how can we expect these self-appointed pest control officers to control themselves?
And who can blame the Hatcher Pass snowmachine gang who swarmed after a family of bears but killed just the mother when the State shoots predators from aircraft? The State of Alaska sets the standard, establishes the tone and leads the way in wildlife atrocities. The State of Alaska has not only made it legal to massacre wildlife populations to the edge of extermination---it leads the way in grotesque excesses. Official, State-sponsored cruelty provokes and incites slaughter on a mass scale and facilitates the legal fulfillment of wildlife torturers‘ most sadistic urges. I just heard a rumor that "hunters“ from some “organized” hunting group are headed to the Circle, Alaska area to "kill as many wolves and bears as they can." How noble!
I appreciate the many responses to the previous blog, but would suggest less “pukeworthy” and “sick to the stomach” reactions---those just add to the pleasure of “manly” hunters like “blah-blah-blah…“ -“gunsight” (deleted from the comments) who not only get to inflict dominance and pain on wild animals, but also derive great pleasure from making the weenies squirm. Trapper, Coke “Dead Horse Walking” Wallace, appears to thrive on taunting people who like their wildlife alive. Make no mistake, it is part of the hunter/trapper mystique for some to believe themselves exceedingly more manly and “Alaskan“ than those who choose not to bullet-hole wild animals or torture them in traps and snares. It is not necessary to understand this mostly male inadequacy---only to recognize that some, not all, hunters and trappers are inflicting deliberate cruelties upon wild animals in order to prop up their sagging masculinity and/or she-maleness.
This is not just about “illegal” hunting or trapping---this is about the State making wildlife cruelty and extermination “legal,” desirable and standard practice. Aberrant Alaska hunters and trappers and outside gunmen have---along with “honest” hunters---helped wreck the “good” hunting and trapping by simple over-harvesting---because the State allows it. Using “subsistence“ as the sacred excuse for a profane slaughter, the State of Alaska is conducting wildlife genocide---not in order to “feed families” but to feed the pleasures of those who can’t “get off” unless they kill wild animals and cause them to suffer. The ”good” hunters and trappers are, apparently, powerless or without the will to speak out against or control the grim reapers within their midst, or even to control themselves.
That’s why Hatcher Pass is such an important place---because it has already been ravaged into a wildlife dead zone. Sure, the moose and bears are the obvious missing elements---it doesn’t take a wildlife biologist to notice that! Just a few decades ago one could actually see herds of moose and spot many bears and even some wolves. Now there are only a few stragglers. But it’s not only moose, bears and wolves that are missing---just about every other wild animal from ground squirrels to ptarmigan to marmots to beaver to wolverines to foxes to coyotes and birds large and small are nearly gone---mostly shot and mostly shot “legally!” I’ll bet there are other places in Alaska similarly depleted, but I have firsthand knowledge of Hatcher Pass. I witnessed how it was cleansed of wildlife and am now seeing the survivors being casually run down using motorized vehicles. Hatcher Pass is an ongoing wildlife management crime scene!
There are honest hunters and trappers with legitimate needs out there, but even most of these “law-abiding” worthies have remained all too silent in the face of a State-sponsored extermination and “hunting opportunity” program that is wiping out Alaska’s wildlife at an alarming rate. Simply claiming to be a “legal” hunter these days is just a cop-out. Few “real hunters” have the guts to speak out against the wanton killers among them---and against a State that “legally” leads the way in wiping out wildlife. All who benefit from the gratuitous slaughter of bears and wolves---and all who take advantage of the State’s liberal wildlife regulations and over-generous bag limits---are part of this corrupt system. And remember, managing an entire wildlife and wildlands system for the benefit of a few “sports” is clearly and specifically unconstitutional and therefore illegal (Alaska Constitution). Unless one is speaking out against the system---or better, refusing to participate---”legal” hunters are part of the problem of wildlife elimination.
Same thing goes for any biologists and officials of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game who still have scruples. Like most State employees they are keeping their mouths shut---because they realize that the only “science” qualification in Fish and Game these days is an enthusiastic and insatiable willingness to kill wolves and bears on a grand scale. That goes particularly for Cora Campbell, who took the job as department head knowing she had to go along with the mass killings. Welcome to the “killing fields,” Cora!
What can be done, asks one commentator. First, educate yourself. It wouldn’t hurt to learn a little science---how all of life is mutually dependent and why removing predators destroys the health of wild ecosystems.
Get over the “romance” of Last Frontier fantasies of “living off the land;” the myth of the trapper who sends his kids through college by selling dead animal skins; and the “noble” hunter “feeding his family.” Those days are gone---most likely forever! Only a very few people in Alaska actually “live off the land” these days. Don’t be misled by phony claims of “tradition,” “heritage“ and “feeding families.” Consider the reality that the entire wildlife and wildlands management system is politically corrupt. It’s all about the motorized equipment these days. Realize that killing wildlife in Alaska is big business based on recreational desires and the highly motorized activities of what is, in essence, an equipment cult dedicated to killing wildlife.
These atrocities are happening because Alaska is under crooked wildlife management dominated by outside and inside special interests. Five hundred public comments called for a Denali Park buffer zone to protect the important park wolves---but only the testimony of five recreational trappers counted. And all for a useless, torn-up carcass and a valuable wolf pack decimated by trappers who slink around park borders like hyenas! Parks are among the few places (outside of Anchorage) with any significant wildlife populations remaining. That’s why there is now a national political movement to reintroduce the “heritage” of hunting in national parks. Get after our US Congressional delegation on this one!
Google Palin-Pal “Corey Rossi.” Look up blogs and articles by Bill Sherwonit, Tina Brown, biologist Vic Van Ballenberghe, biologist Wade Willis (Science Now Project) and biologist Rick Sinnot. They have documented some of the corruptions and bad science. And be sure to check out “Wolf Song of Alaska” compilations of articles from all sides of these issues.
This is about a lot more than just a few “illegal” hunters and trappers---most wildlife in Alaska was killed off “legally.” The State of Alaska is the complicit practitioner, enabler and facilitator of wildlife tortures and exterminations. What is needed to stop the annihilation of Alaska wildlife is some clear-headed public action and political pressure on officials from Governor Sean Parnell on down. Lean on State Legislators. It’s time for those who choose life for wildlife to swallow their anger and get organized. Unfocused pain and anguish merely doubles the pleasure of wildlife molesters and encourages their “legal“ atrocities.
Figure out what the State really means when it says that it is killing wolves and bears to make more moose for “subsistence.“ Ask the State what, specifically and exactly, it means by “subsistence” and “depend on.” Ask why the lucrative hunter-client businesses are allowed to bring outside-hunters into predator-controlled areas---despite assurances that predator-killing is only for the benefit of local “subsistence users.” [Hint: The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is “stocked” with members of the guiding services industries.]
And light a fire under the various Alaska media, which mainly just repeat what the State says---where the term “predator control” is always used in the same breath as making more moose to “feed families.” Where important stories such as “Dead Horse Walking” trapper, Coke Wallace, get more immediate and thorough coverage in the L.A. Times than in the Alaska print media. Where Alaska television simply presents the happy faces of wildlife managers or fright stories of bear maulings and wolf scares. Where investigative journalism is itself almost extinct---despite a wildlife and wildlands management system that is oozing and swelling like a bloated carcass with obvious corruption…crying out for investigation and exposure.
Is the death of one bear a tragedy…the death of thousands a mere statistic? People outside Alaska seem to be taking this wildlife extermination more seriously than Alaskans. Simply by Facebook sharing the sordid tale of the killing of the mother grizzly at Hatcher Pass, one respondent reports that two of his Lower-48 friends have cancelled proposed trips to Alaska.
- Rudy Wittshirk