Friday, September 26, 2008

Never Cry Wolf

I'm a little late, but I just read "Drill, Drill, Drill" by Eve Ensler on Sarah Palin. At one point she refers to Palin shooting wolves from the air. The image that raises in my mind comes from the movie based on Farley Mowat's Never Cry Wolf. I've not seen the movie since childhood, but the image of dead wolves and blood in the snow wrecked me then and has stayed with me. There are so many other reasons to dislike and fear Palin, but this one rips me up at my core. I can't trust anyone who would engage in that kind of carnage for sport.

We're not talking about hunting. I'm from Alabama. I have friends who hunt -- I believe that anyone who eats meat should be prepared to kill their own food. This is different. The practice violates the Federal Airborne Hunting Act of 1972, except by a loophole in which it's allowed for population control. And if you buy the idea that this is legitimately done for population control, in Alaska's vast wilderness, in an ecosystem that's gotten along fine without human control until recently, watch this, which I took from here.

From Slate,
Palin tried last year to have the state pay $150 for every wolf killed, but the state superior court shot that down as an illegal use of bounty payments, which were outlawed in that state in 1984.
Want to fact check?

Here's a taste of Ensler's piece, but go read the whole thing.
Sarah Palin does not believe in evolution. I take this as a metaphor. In her world and the world of Fundamentalists nothing changes or gets better or evolves. She does not believe in global warming. The melting of the arctic, the storms that are destroying our cities, the pollution and rise of cancers, are all part of God's plan. She is fighting to take the polar bears off the endangered species list. The earth, in Palin's view, is here to be taken and plundered. The wolves and the bears are here to be shot and plundered. The oil is here to be taken and plundered. Iraq is here to be taken and plundered. As she said herself of the Iraqi war, "It was a task from God."

I used to canvas for IL PIRG, used to be a "community organizer" if I can say that without getting sneered at, and one man I spoke to in Elgin still disturbs me. When I asked him about his position on an environmental issue, he told me, "Christ says, 'Be not of this world.'" He had a nice house, and an SUV, and expensive shoes on his feet. He looked to be "of this world" to me. But he doesn't care about this world, because he's looking forward to heaven. I don't believe that many Christian people share this scary, fundamentalist point of view, but I think Sarah Palin does, and that terrifies me.

And if you'd rather I be talking about John McCain than Sarah Palin, okay, fine . . . He picked her. Actually, I don't even really believe he picked her. I think he went along with a cynical and irresponsible choice made by his campaign, which might be worse.

I'm always hesitant to post anything political on this blog. I try to be open-minded. I'm registered as an independent. I don't want to be labeled by an affiliation to a political party. But I take the issues at stake in this election personally, and I hope, hope, hope that people who do identify as conservatives won't approach this election with the blind, sports-team-style loyalty that afflicts people on both sides of American politics.


Matt Ainslie said...

Hey Rachel,

A couple other facts about this, from (at

1. This practice is limited to 9% of Alaska's territory.

2. Wolves aren't endangered up there as they are in the lower 48.

3. The animals wolves eat are those also hunted by subsistence hunters, who need them for survival.

4. It's highly controversial even in Alaska.

For my own curiosity-- Would it matter to your opinion if the bounty-hunting occurred by hunters on foot?


Rachel Wilson said...

I knew I'd get comments on this one! Yay! Thanks for reading, Matt!

Good link -- it goes into a lot of detail, and it sounds like the ad it's referring to was overblown.

The question about bounty hunting on foot . . . IF I believed that degree of control was warranted, yes, that would make a difference, because it's easier to get a clean shot. I think aerial shooting is cruel, but still, it used to be done only by state employees, removing any hint of sport from the practice. Giving licenses to private hunters and offering bounties, as Palin supports, invites abuse.

Endangerment's not the issue here. That's a question for the polar bears. But I don't believe the hunting's warranted on the basis of population control.

That same Factcheck link gives some good info about 172 scientists in 2007 "questioning whether the program was grounded in solid research, including accurate surveys of animal populations, and whether unrealistically high target numbers of prey had been adopted. The scientists urged that the conservation of predators be considered on an equal basis with the goal of producing more moose and caribou for hunters."

Commercial hunting interests in Alaska have a lot of political sway and every reason to support artificial inflation of big game populations, even though it can be detrimental to the prey as well.

This study finds that the majority of successful hunters of moose and caribou are urban and non-resident, not rural hunters depending on the meat for survival. Giving priority to subsistence hunters when prey is low would be a more natural solution, but wouldn't please trophy hunters.

In the interest of full disclosure, I don't eat meat. I would have a hard time living in the Alaskan wilderness, but a lot of people who do are still against aerial hunting.

In 1996 and 2000, Alaskan voters banned aerial control by private hunters, but the legislature overturned the initiatives. In August, a similar measure passed -- after Palin spent $400,000 on "education" about the program. She also supported a referendum to prevent further voting on the issue. I found this essay on it interesting:

And now we all know more than we ever thought we would need to know about Alaskan wildlife management. Pretty interesting though.