By Scott Tibbs, February 11, 2009
Did you know Alaska Governor Sarah Palin tortures animals for fun? Neither did I. Shocking, ain't it? While I'm using hyperbole here, that is not too far removed from the accusations made in he campaign against Palin by the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, which dispatched actress Ashley Judd to attack Palin on Alaska's program to reduce the wolf population.
As the owner of two dogs, the DOW video was not easy to watch. I do not want to see animals suffer needlessly. However, I know two things that caused me to take the criticism with a grain (well, more than a grain) of salt. First, many Leftists have an unholy hatred of Sarah Palin and some are not above spreading untruths in the campaign against her. (Remember the accusations about her son, Trig?) The credibility of a number of Palin-haters leaves a lot to be desired, and this is obviously a politically-motivated campaign to damage Palin's prospects of becoming the Republican Party's nominee for President in 2012.
Second, animal-rights activists have been waging a jihad against hunting for years now. In response to a 1993 deer hunt in Brown County, "an anonymous letter was sent to the DNR and selected media organizations threatening that people dressed in deer colors and wearing fake antlers will infiltrate the park during the kill." The stupidity and irresponsibility of such tactics are obvious. Make no mistake: the philosophy behind this campaign (other than smearing Palin) is that all hunting is bad, not a question about tactics.
Judd and DOW criticize the fact that the wolves are shot during winter and from the air, when they have little chance to escape. Some hunters share DOW's disdain for this tactic, but the point of this hunt is not for sport or a "fair chase", but to efficiently reduce the wolf population. The reason for this is also important: the wolf population is controlled to protect other wildlife, including moose and caribou. It is also to preserve food for the people of Alaska. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game points out that "Predators kill more than 80 percent of the moose and caribou that die during an average year." This is not killing for the sake of killing, but a plan to manage wildlife.
Palin released a statement defending the program last week, and told CNN by phone that "only Alaska residents can participate in the aerial wolf-hunting program, and then they must obtain a state permit." Even if out-of-state hunters were allowed to participate, does it matter? The question is not who is doing the killing, the question is whether the program is a valid and efficient way of controlling predator population and protecting other wildlife. Judd's complaint about "urban hunters, trophy hunters from out of state" is a meaningless red herring.
Obviously, the program to control predators should be conducted in a humane manner. The program (as with any government program) should be well documented, and Alaska officials should be willing to consider alternative methods of controlling the wolf population should those methods be efficient and economically feasible. Running politically-motivated scare ads with sinister-looking pictures of Palin does not help DOW's cause.