Sarah Palin has hit back at actress Ashley Judd for her criticisms of the effort to pare back the Alaskan wolf population for the protection of caribou.  Scoffing at advice from “far east coast politicians,” Palin reminded Judd and her Defense of Wildlife Action Fund that Alaskans relied on healthy caribou populations for food — especially in economically trying times.  She also accused Judd of manufacturing outrage to stoke donations to her group:

Alaska governor Sarah Palin’s support for aerial wolf-hunting has sparked a heated cross-country war of words between the governor and an environmental ad campaign fronted by the actress Ashley Judd, with Palin calling the organization funding the ads an “extreme fringe group.”

The squabble began Tuesday when the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund unveiled a campaign called “Eye on Palin,” targeting the governor for what they call her “extreme anti-conservation policies.”

The group is highlighting “Palin’s championing of the brutal and unnecessary aerial killing of wolves and other carnivores” — a controversial practice allowed by permit in Alaska since 2003, with the goal of protecting populations of moose and caribou.

Judd, who has in the past lent her voice to AIDS prevention and reproductive health campaigns, signed on with the group and is featured in a YouTube video. “It is time to stop Sarah Palin, and stop this senseless savagery,” she says in the clip.

Perhaps Judd might want to change the name of her group to the Defense of Selected Wildlife Action Fund.  The aerial hunt intended on thinning the number of wolves in order to protect an endangered caribou population that had dropped to only 500.  Since the ban on wolf hunting decades ago, the top-of-the-food-chain predator has made a stunning comeback, lately at the expense of its usual prey.

For a group that wants to protect wildlife, they seem strangely unconcerned about the plight of the caribou and moose … unless it comes to drilling in ANWR, which doesn’t actually harm the caribou at all.

By the way, Palin’s strategy worked.  Biologists in the state’s Fish and Game Department estimate that the caribou herds increased to 6500 this year, thanks to the reduced threat from wolves.  The birth rate went from one calf per 100 cows to 39 calves per 100 cows, which will help herd growth for the next several years. Another season without the aerial hunt might have wiped out the caribou herds altogether.

As I wrote at the time, 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.

Judd should get out of Cartoon World and learn something about wildlife management — and Palin’s success — before opening her mouth and removing all doubt about her ignorance.

Update: From the comments, a look at the reason why wolf hunting takes place:

Does Judd cheer for the wolf or the calf in this video?