Fun and games from the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, casting our heroine in the role of a cartoon sadist. Consider it a complement to WaPo hyperventilation last week about why she increased spending for teen moms by “only” $3.9 million instead of $5 million: An expansion in funding doesn’t fit the stereotype of Republican heartlessness, so they distorted the facts to make it sound like she cut funding by $3.9 million. The same Snidely Whiplash effect is on display here but this time it’s a sin of omission rather than commission, leaving the 99 percent of viewers who’ve never heard of aerial wolf hunting to wonder why anyone would be so cruel.
Aerial shooting yields better results than traditional hunting, since it allows the hunter to cover a lot of ground quickly and track target animals from a clear vantage point. Historically, hunters also used planes to drive animals—polar bears in Alaska and elk in Montana, among others—toward gunmen waiting on the ground. But many hunters found the practice unsportsmanlike, since it violates the “fair chase” ethic, and animal rights activists call it inhumane, since airborne gunmen rarely get a clean (i.e., relatively painless) kill. In response to concerns like these, Congress passed the Federal Airborne Hunting Act of 1972, which made it illegal for hunters to shoot animals from a plane or helicopter.
The federal legislation (PDF) does have a loophole for predator control, permitting state employees or licensed individuals to shoot from an aircraft for the sake of protecting “land, water, wildlife, livestock, domesticated animals, human life, or crops.” (This doesn’t just apply to wolves; coyotes and foxes are sometimes gunned down from aircraft, especially in Western states.) Since 2003, Alaska has issued aerial wolf-hunting permits in select areas where moose and caribou populations are particularly endangered. The idea is that by killing the predators, the airborne gunmen can ramp up the number of moose and caribou that human hunters can take home for supper.
They killed 124 wolves this way over the winter, one-tenth the total amount trapped in Alaska each year. Estimated number of wildlife saved thus far: 1,500 moose and 3,000 caribou. But the idea that Palin gets her rocks off blowing away wolves from low-flying planes is much more compelling, so here you go, all pesky nuances pertaining to motive removed. Don’t hold your breath waiting for the media outrage over LIES!!!1! to explode over this the way it has over McCain’s ads.