Palin wolf-thinning project worked

posted at 8:35 am on November 12, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

During the campaign, some critics of Sarah Palin ridiculed her efforts to thin the wolf population by shooting them from helicopters, painting her as cruel and anti-nature.  The Anchorage Daily News reports that the caribou population might dispute that.  Thanks to the limitation of the predators, the survival rate of young caribou has dramatically increased:

Slaughtering wolves on the Alaska Peninsula appears to have had the desired effect — more caribou got a chance to live, according to biologists with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

As ugly and as politically incorrect as the wolf killing might seem to some, they said, the helicopter gunning that took place earlier this year saved caribou, especially young caribou, from being eaten alive.

Fall surveys of the Southern Alaska Peninsula caribou herd completed in October found an average of 39 calves per 100 cows. That’s a dramatic improvement from fall counts of only 1 calf per 100 cows in 2006 and 2007.

The state wildlife board needed to take dramatic action on behalf of the caribou in the southern herd.  The population had dropped from 6,000 to 500.  Wolves and bears had wiped out the offspring for too long, and left alone, the herd would have disappeared altogether.

Unfortunately, critics didn’t bother to find out why Palin’s administration thinned the wolf population by the most efficient manner available to them.  Critics of responsible wildlife management seem to live in Cartoon World, where the wolf and the bear and the caribou all become best friends and have adventures together with the plucky little kid from the local village.  In fact, the wolf and the bear will eat the caribou until there are none left, and would have the plucky little kid for dessert if they could.

The biggest irony, of course, is that the critics of drilling in ANWR like to invoke the caribou as a reason to block extraction of the vast oil resources in the region.  The wolves present a far greater danger to caribou than drilling ever did, but I guess caribou are only valuable as a means to block drilling.


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For the flip side you can also look to Yellowstone, NP, where the caribou got far out of control without a natural predator population. Re-introducing predators also had the beneficial effect of cutting down on disease rates in the herds, which is something we never hear about as the rate of infectious diseases climbs as those individuals are not hunted out of the herd.

Mind you the tracking projects on both bear and wolves led to some teams heading towards the same direction and having the scientific data being discussed: ‘your bear ate our wolf!’ There will be predators going outside the Park, and that does mean added oversight by those living in and around it. But at least the coyote attacks on people have started to diminish as the wolves go after them, too…

Wonderful place to work if you don’t mind the one in some odd tens of thousands chance of the place turning into a pyroclastic flow… but that is a disaster we can know about and not prepare for as it is overwhelming. Then wolves will be the least of our worries.

ajacksonian on November 12, 2008 at 12:15 PM

As a citizen of the Rocky Mountain States, you folks should know that forced wolf reintroduction is alive and well in the lower 48 too. These extremist groups are shocked to learn that the cute little wolfy pups grow up to be voracious killing machines and are currently decimating the elk and deer herds in the the Rocky Mountain West. The Feds lifted the protection ban, and Wyoming started predator hunts to control the exploding wolf population, to which, the bunny huggers sued successfully to stop wolf control anywhere. Now, we have rampant wolf populations spreading westward into population centers…and eating cats, dogs, cows, chickens, and anything else they can get a hold of.

I can’t wait until they get to San Fransico and start eating the homeless. Until then, wolves roam free to decimate the countryside.

Wyznowski on November 12, 2008 at 12:27 PM

as a supposed wildlife biologist. I guess you have never seen wolves in action. Smart animals they are indeed.

They do eat the young and old ALIVE. If they are a well fed bunch of wolves, they will actually play with their “victims”, and bite and CHEW on the hind quarters of caribou as well as moose while the caribou and moose are RUNNING from them.

Get a grip and maybe learn something about Alaska and the wildlife here then the assumption of the lower 48 animals.

upinak on November 12, 2008 at 11:51 AM

Well, no, I am not a “supposed” wildlife biologist. I am a real one. Most of my work is with threatened and endangered species in the rocky mountain west. I have many years experience as well. However, you are correct. I don’t get a whole lot wolf work and never have in Alaska. I have no doubts that what you have seen it entirely different that what we have “down south”.

Everything from climate, to prey base, to territoriality, to human encroachment pressure, to . . . to make them act the way they act. You are right that animals don’t follow the “book” just like they don’t follow political, Forest Service, private property, etc boundary lines. I have seen animals in habitat that was toally out of their confirmed range. I agree with you.

Now, that was civil discouse. If you want to continue with your attitude, then tell me what you do for a living and I’ll tell you why and how you suck at it.

thomashton on November 12, 2008 at 12:33 PM

For the flip side you can also look to Yellowstone, NP, where the caribou got far out of control without a natural predator population.

In all my years of living in and around Yellowstone, I have yet to see a carribou…elk, lots of em, carribou, no.

Wyznowski on November 12, 2008 at 12:36 PM

Marine_Bio on November 12, 2008 at 12:06 PM

marine, it is the fact Alaskans voted twice and this is still happening.

There is more then people realize down there about this. It isn’t just the PETA people, it is the general population as a whole who says this sucks and let hunters take them out. I.E. using rifles on the ground, not in the air. Very unsportsman like.

upinak on November 12, 2008 at 12:38 PM

upinak on November 12, 2008 at 12:38 PM

Snow geese have been decimating the tundra for years now and extended hunting seasons have been effective in reducing their numbers. However, their destruction of native tundra grasses/shrubs pales in comparison to the decimation of the caribou herd in question. Immediate action was clearly necessary though not as desirable as letting hunters do the work perhaps.

Now that we’re out ahead of the problem and the herd has a chance to rebound and rebuild, it will be much easier to get approval to hunt the wolves to keep them in check, don’t you think? THAT is sound wildlife management.

Biffstir on November 12, 2008 at 12:46 PM

thomashton on November 12, 2008 at 12:33 PM

I am sorry… but this is a political issue. Stupid or not, Alaskans voted no twice on this subject. Once was Ariel hunting (for hunters in general) and the other, which was recent concerning Fish and Wildlife to do ariel hunting (i.e. thinning out) of the wolves and their packs.

This bothers me to no end. Caribou are all over Alaska… mostly up past the Brooks Range. But we have quite a few thousands in the Kenai Penn area that live there year round. Which are not hunted, and you can not get a permit to hunt. Very rarely has a permit to hunt them open.

The area the wolves are being killed is in the Kenai Penn, not where everyone else thinks… like Denali, or the Interior as we like to call it but 500 miles south. Hunters up here can do the job, but at a slower rate, which wouldn’t hurt anything and could possibly weed out the wolves that are more a hinderance for humans then the caribou.

Sarah knew about the vote… and yet it still happened. I love Sarah, but this is one issue she should have listened to the voters about since it was voted on.

upinak on November 12, 2008 at 1:07 PM

Biffstir on November 12, 2008 at 12:46 PM

Did you read anything that said tundra or the Arctic Slope?

Nope, you are assuming as well. Stop… this isn’t the on the North Slope… this is over by where I live. 100 mile to 200 miles south.

upinak on November 12, 2008 at 1:08 PM

Someone should take a picture of a Caribou, Elk, and Moose and then have an “environmentalist” who is opposing ANWAR drilling correctly identify each; and also give one or two natural enemies of the correctly named animal (humans not included) before they are allowed to even peep a word about how ANWAR is going to hurt the animal population.

Rogue Traveler on November 12, 2008 at 1:09 PM

There ought to be one day – just one – when there is open season on senators.
–Will Rogers

urbancenturion on November 12, 2008 at 1:12 PM

Rogue Traveler on November 12, 2008 at 1:09 PM

1. there are no Elk or Moose on the North Slope
2. ANWR, not ANWAR… no war going on up there.
3. this isn’t about the North Slope.

upinak on November 12, 2008 at 1:12 PM

upinak…
it was an ANALOGY.
And it’s aerial, not ariel! :P

Biffstir on November 12, 2008 at 1:13 PM

upinak…
it was an ANALOGY.
And it’s aerial, not ariel! :P

Biffstir on November 12, 2008 at 1:13 PM

Analogy or not.. I am just pointing out the facts.

Sorry I am tired. My dog has been seizing all nite. I wish someone would have a website for OD, side effects and pills for animals. WOuld have made my vet bill 1000K rather then 3000K

upinak on November 12, 2008 at 1:17 PM

Fantastic work upinak.

I’m not sure where I mentioned the north slope, but I’m sure it’s relevant to what I had posted somehow.

North Slope

I also realize there are no Elk or Moose on the North Slope (again, I’m wondering if perhaps I should have mentioned “North Slope” somewhere in my post since you brought it up twice in your response)

North Slope

My post had nothing to do with you, although I suppose after reading all the posts, you must now think that you are in charge of the discussion from here on out.

North Slope

I apologise for misspelling ANWAR. It won’t be the last time I make a typing error.

North Slope

The point of MY post was simply this: Most of the people clamoring for no drilling don’t have any idea of the actual environmental impact or the wildlife it will impact. My simple test (North Slope) would, in my estimation, eliminate at least half of the blow hards who protest for ideals rather than ideas.

North Slope.

Rogue Traveler on November 12, 2008 at 1:20 PM

No worries. Sorry to hear about your pup. :(

Biffstir on November 12, 2008 at 1:22 PM

Upinak, I don’t know if you’re overly sensitive because of the voting issue you discussed or if this is an extension of your expressed annoyance with the significantly increased attention the lower 48 is paying Alaska right now, or just the exhaustion from your dog. (BTW, having been through that with a stupid Airedale Pup, you have my condolences)

Eating prey alive, still kicking, and toying with prey is not what I consider unusual behavior, regardless of environment, AK, the lower 48, the African continent, the Pacific Ocean. Heck, these are not unusual behaviors for housecats with mice they have captured. I did not object to the idea that they were eating the caribou “alive”, nor do I believe this was the case with thomashton. This happens in a predatory process.

The point was that adding this single word changes the tenor of the article. Was that intended? In my opinion, it certainly wasn’t necessary. I took it to be a frivolous addition, and was amused that thomashon did as well. I think that it would be fair to simply say that thomashton and I had a different take on the article than yours.

Peace?

Marine_Bio on November 12, 2008 at 1:49 PM

But…..I thought it was BIG OIL that killed the Carribou…

Sponge on November 12, 2008 at 1:51 PM

Rogue Traveler on November 12, 2008 at 1:20 PM

North Slope is a term most use for the Oil and Gas trash (yeah we have our own lingo) who work up there. Usually it is called the Upper Arctic Slope, Upper Arctic Circle or Northern Alaska (via lower 48er’s). Just a term, nothing more or less.

Marine_Bio on November 12, 2008 at 1:49 PM

peace…

Waiting to find out if we put the dog down… this is going to be a long week.

upinak on November 12, 2008 at 1:54 PM

Waiting to find out if we put the dog down… this is going to be a long week.

upinak on November 12, 2008 at 1:54 PM

Ugh, that’s really much rougher than expected. What the heck was eaten?

Marine_Bio on November 12, 2008 at 2:00 PM

Eat or be eaten. Those of us who live with the outdoors & care for animals know the cruelty & no-nonsense of nature.
It is what it is. People anthropromorphize (sp?) EVERYTHING. It’s disgusting.
BTW-Here in SW ND, we have wolves. I have seen them with my OWN EYES in BROAD DAYLIGHT only 20 feet away.
They don’t live here per se-but they definitely use this area as a travel corridor.
I don’t think they’re coming from N. MN-I think they’re from Y-stone & the Rockies.
Now they got over double the amount wildlife nuts said they wanted & they STILL won’t de-list the wolf.
Wish they’d plant some in downtown Denver.
I want to see the killing spree on pets that results there!

Badger40 on November 12, 2008 at 2:06 PM

Badger40 on November 12, 2008 at 2:06 PM

Very close, one too many r’s

anthropromorphize

Marine_Bio on November 12, 2008 at 2:10 PM

Wonderful place to work if you don’t mind the one in some odd tens of thousands chance of the place turning into a pyroclastic flow… but that is a disaster we can know about and not prepare for as it is overwhelming. Then wolves will be the least of our worries.

ajacksonian on November 12, 2008 at 12:15 PM

Are you a fellow GeoBuddy?
Y-stone could be a massive disaster for the US & the world. I often wonder when it will erupt again & how nasty it will be.
One thing for sure, I’ll be screwed where I’m at.

Badger40 on November 12, 2008 at 2:12 PM

Marine_Bio on November 12, 2008 at 1:49 PM

Thanks Bio. You’re much more eloquent than I. Nail on the head.

upinak, I’ll take a large slice of that “peace” if we’re still serving it :) Good luck with the pooch. I’ve been incredibly lucky with mine of 8.5 years. Mostly just hit by a car once (no problems at all), and a cut on the leg I took care of with some iodine and Blu-Kote. Surprising there hasn’t been more. Plenty of barbed wire and other animals to tangle with here in the country.

thomashton on November 12, 2008 at 2:17 PM

Badger40 on November 12, 2008 at 2:12 PM

We would all be screwed if Y-stone or the Socorro NM caldera blows.

Marine_Bio on November 12, 2008 at 2:17 PM

thomashton on November 12, 2008 at 2:17 PM

No worries, I gleaned enough from your 12:33 post to conclude that you probably have a more similar background to me than any I have encountered so far on Hot Air, just terrestrial in nature. Given your mention of threatened and endangered species, I suspect you also have intersected NEPA work. NEPA, ESA, and MMPA are the bane of my existence, but also the backbone of my paycheck.

Now there’s a dichotomy for you.

Marine_Bio on November 12, 2008 at 2:30 PM

I lived in Albuquerque for over 4 years while going to grad school at UNM. I travelled the whole state many times and was in and near Socorro a lot. How do I not know about the caldera there?

thomashton on November 12, 2008 at 2:31 PM

I lived in Albuquerque for over 4 years while going to grad school at UNM. I travelled the whole state many times and was in and near Socorro a lot. How do I not know about the caldera there?

thomashton on November 12, 2008 at 2:31 PM

I did my Geo undergrad field camp partly in NM (UWY) & I didn’t know there was an ‘active’ caldera there.
Should check that out.
Maybe all the resurgent calderas all over the world will blow at once. That would surely be a fiery end to all.

Badger40 on November 12, 2008 at 2:34 PM

New Mexico Valles Caldera

http://www.vallescaldera.gov/

upinak on November 12, 2008 at 2:35 PM

thomashton on November 12, 2008 at 2:31 PM

Its huge.

Marine_Bio on November 12, 2008 at 2:40 PM

New Mexico Valles Caldera

http://www.vallescaldera.gov/

upinak on November 12, 2008 at 2:35 PM

Thanks. I have been there. There’s some nice pumice samples with a little obsidian(I believe) in them right across the road from the caldera view.
But I don’t know how active it is. It’ll be interesting to find out.

Badger40 on November 12, 2008 at 2:41 PM

Badger40 on November 12, 2008 at 2:34 PM

Not as active as Y-stone. I’m looking for my reference, but I remember running across some study indicating a bulge in the caldera.

Marine_Bio on November 12, 2008 at 2:43 PM

Are you a fellow GeoBuddy?

Badger40 on November 12, 2008 at 2:12 PM

I’m a GeoBuddy, too. Retired. Forty eight years in the field and the mines.

Just how many are really on here?

Yoop on November 12, 2008 at 3:00 PM

Yoop on November 12, 2008 at 3:00 PM

Depends.. just geo or geo-oil/gas types.

upinak on November 12, 2008 at 3:02 PM

Depends.. just geo or geo-oil/gas types.

upinak on November 12, 2008 at 3:02 PM

All of the above…

We all mostly get lumped in together when they are cataloging the rapers and pillagers. ;-)

Yoop on November 12, 2008 at 3:13 PM

Well, this may have already been pointed out, but what was going to happen to the wolf population once all of the caribou were gone? I’ll go with the answer I learned in hunter safety as a kid. The wolves would die too. So they ended up saving the caribou AND the wolves.

benthere5516 on November 12, 2008 at 3:47 PM

Well, if doing this is the only way to prevent the caribou from going extinct, then okay. But I hope this is just a temporary thing because shooting animals from helicopters is really not cool.

SoulGlo on November 12, 2008 at 4:17 PM

Poor little voolves being shodt frumm der air zo zey cannot feedt zeir little vones der caribou. Vee ist ashamed uff der voolfe hundters. Voolfe packs ist der prrreferred method of hundting you know. Vee didt zat in WWII mit der Uboats you know.

Voolves Roole!

/Bears are socialist bastages!

44Magnum on November 12, 2008 at 4:20 PM

Wolves thinned

Now on to the RINOs

BobH on November 12, 2008 at 4:45 PM

Maybe Palin can start a program over Wall Street. ;-)

Feedie on November 12, 2008 at 4:49 PM

Yoop on November 12, 2008 at 3:00 PM

I’m a neophyte Geobuddy. Finished all my undergrad studies & then changed gears & became a HS science teacher. I teach some College credit classes.
Been seriously considering some mud-logging or drilling technician work.
The Bakken up here is really cruisin’ for work.

Badger40 on November 12, 2008 at 5:02 PM

Maybe Palin can start a program over Wall Street. ;-)

Feedie on November 12, 2008 at 4:49 PM

Indeed! Time will tell.

Aronne on November 12, 2008 at 5:04 PM

Why exactly is it the government’s responsibility (or interest) to worry about the levels of animal populations? If the caribou were going to go extinct, that’s how nature works.

Sign of the Dollar on November 12, 2008 at 6:44 PM

Y-stone could be a massive disaster for the US & the world. I often wonder when it will erupt again & how nasty it will be.

I read recently–although I do not remember where–that the magma has dropped a bit, so hopefully not any time soon. But when it does? Whoa. It’s gonna be something else when it does.

(my daughter just got back last week from working the season there)

Bob's Kid on November 12, 2008 at 6:57 PM

Short answer . . . money.

Hunting dollars are huge. The more deer, elk, caribou, bear, cougars, ducks, geese, or whatever there are, the more tags you can sell.

The long answer . . . man has screwed up migrations routes, destroyed huge tracts of habitat, drained wetlands, etc. etc. etc. It’s our responsibility to keep species populations healthy where we have progressed the rate of what would be natural extinction of a species (if such a thing were even possible to determine).

In short, see the short answer.

thomashton on November 12, 2008 at 6:57 PM

Maybe all the resurgent calderas all over the world will blow at once. That would surely be a fiery end to all.

End of the Holocene, for sure. :)

Bob's Kid on November 12, 2008 at 6:59 PM

So, from a conservative perspective…

Granted, I don’t know the details of all this and perhaps it had something to do with the safety of nearby human populations, but just to play devil’s advocate…

As limited government believers, if we don’t want the government choosing winners and losers among humans, why should we want them choosing winners and losers among animals? The law of unintended consequences applies in nature as well as in economics.

Oathkeeper216 on November 12, 2008 at 7:06 PM

This is an example of efficient Animal Husbandry at its finest.
More steaks…ummm
Speaking of AK…Where is UPINAK?

jerrytbg on November 12, 2008 at 7:45 PM

I’m thinking that the liberals and tree huggers who want to take away our guns and ban hunting live in the world of Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner, where the smart and skillful bird outsmarts the super genius every time. Gov. Palin’s plan for thinning the wolf population worked.

That brings me to another question. If the Caribou population had been further decimated by inaction on the state government, who would the liberals blame? Do you think it might just be Gov. Palin?

simkeith on November 12, 2008 at 8:29 PM

Maybe the wolves could have been induced to sign up for Tiny Dancer’s government servitude project. Then, they would have the right to live, and the caribou could pay for that right with several pounds of flesh.

onlineanalyst on November 12, 2008 at 9:34 PM

That brings me to another question. If the Caribou population had been further decimated by inaction on the state government, who would the liberals blame? Do you think it might just be Gov. Palin?

simkeith on November 12, 2008 at 8:29 PM

You betchya!

Hammer hits nail.

Saltysam on November 12, 2008 at 10:36 PM

So, from a conservative perspective…

Granted, I don’t know the details of all this and perhaps it had something to do with the safety of nearby human populations, but just to play devil’s advocate…

As limited government believers, if we don’t want the government choosing winners and losers among humans, why should we want them choosing winners and losers among animals? The law of unintended consequences applies in nature as well as in economics.

Oathkeeper216 on November 12, 2008 at 7:06 PM

Okay, I’ll play.

Are you from Alaska?

May I invoke the 10th amendment into this conversation?

Saltysam on November 12, 2008 at 10:42 PM

The wolves present a far greater danger to caribou than drilling ever did, but I guess caribou are only valuable as a means to block drilling.

Or as something cheap to use in conjunction with “Barbie”.

ddrintn on November 12, 2008 at 11:46 PM

They shot the wolves that were targets of opportunity, the ones that didn’t run from the den when the copters came. Those wolves turned out to be whelping bitches. Then they shot their orphaned litters and covered it up.

It’s a felony. Palin doesn’t plan on prosecuting the wardens. Maybe she told them to shoot the mothers and their litters. Won’t be many litters for the next few years now that the breeding females are dead.

Good job Sarah. Maybe she’d like to do the same to Michelle and the two little girls.

reddog on November 13, 2008 at 1:56 AM

Do you know what the most shocking information I learned from this thread? I am not alone as a conservative biologist. I could make a joke about being a endangered species but it is so obvious.

peterargus on November 13, 2008 at 8:14 AM

Why does shooting wolves from helicopters sound so awesome?

It’s cool like using a moustrap for an ant.

Sir Andrew on November 13, 2008 at 1:42 PM

reddog on November 13, 2008 at 1:56 AM

I call troll.

You have got to be kidding me. What law was broken, for which constitutes your felony? Unless your thinking of the Endangered Species Act? If so, try again, the Alaska population does not fall under ESA protection.

Also, what do you think makes the biggest impact on the population? Kill off a couple of males? NO.

You’re an IDIOT at the very least if you’re not troll.

Marine_Bio on November 13, 2008 at 1:59 PM

Do you know what the most shocking information I learned from this thread? I am not alone as a conservative biologist. I could make a joke about being a endangered species but it is so obvious.

peterargus on November 13, 2008 at 8:14 AM

Yeah, well it certainly does feel that way sometimes.

I learned that there are apparently more geologist types running around here than I thought.

Marine_Bio on November 13, 2008 at 2:03 PM

Like contained fires conducted properly by forestry firefighters to keep tinder and brush under control before wildfires burn everything uncontrollably, thinning a wolf population might have some good reason, particularly around man’s habitation given a caribou population that’s threatened by predatory wolf and man. No, not wolfman.

OT, the thread headline brought wolf-thinning politicians to mind. And a Hoven quote from American Thinker made me chuckle (though regarding the death of the Republican Party and McCain’s campaign):

But when was the last time you heard anything blamed on “greedy legislators”? Did you ever think that corporations that give money to legislators are not bribing them, but simply paying them protection money?

If you are detecting some anger on my part, it is because I was given the choice, in its purest form, between Stupid and Evil last week. And Stupid is so stupid he doesn’t even recognize Evil when they wake up in bed together and his hind end is sore.

Randall Hoven

maverick muse on November 13, 2008 at 4:32 PM

upinak shares details where the truth be found.

maverick muse on November 13, 2008 at 4:37 PM

Before grocery stores, when people had to ALL hunt for their own food, they killed predators AND prey, like caribou. Man has always been responsible for keeping the predator population down.

What “modern” man has done is stopped or limited prey hunting by raising our meat in fields: cows, pigs, etc.

In Alaska, you can’t just say “So, what, let the caribou and wolf populations die out.” Caribou and moose are still the meat in Alaska. They don’t have the climate or land to have domestic animal production and shipping beef up there is expensive. If the caribou die off, then people will have to ship in meat at great cost from other parts of Alaska or from the lower 48.

Sarah said that all the fish they catch, and animals they kill, end up in their freezer for their sustenance. By kiling the wolves they are protecting their food source as much as somebody killing predators on their cattle ranch in Texas. The “ranch” in Alaska is just the whole state.

PastorJon on November 13, 2008 at 4:58 PM

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