"Wolves kill teacher in Alaska"
Wow. That Alaska sure is a harsh place. What with the cold, and wolves trying to eat you and all. I mean, how many people must wolves kill every year? I bet it's dozens.
Ah, well no. After a little research it turns out this is the first reported killing of a human by a wolf in Alaska. Like... Ever.
But, I mean, that's just in one state. Canada has wolves. Most of the rest of the northern United States have wolves. Surely they must gnaw on us people once in a while just to remind us at how much we suck at not being food.
Ah, no again. Turns out it's 2. That's counting this one.
Though when you think about it, that is kind of scary. The number of human deaths and the hands, er, paws of wolves this year alone is literally double that of all similar reported deaths since 1950. My god, they might be rising up against us!
Now, this all happened on the 13th. So then 5 days later on the 18th, in a completely different portion of Alaska, this news pops up.
"Collared wolves killed during aerial predator control"
Now, the claims are that Fish and Game want to bolster the population of the fortymile herd; A mass of Caribou ranging anywhere from 40-50k animals at this time. This is nowhere near the size it used to be, but still steadily on the rise over the last couple decades by at least 10% per year. The wolves were from Yukon Charly Reserve, which was able to boast a population of 42 wolves last fall, and only 26 wolves in February. The biggest reduction since they started monitoring population in 1993, though this is attributed to normal winter attrition. The collared wolves were part of a 16 year study.
26 wolves. Fish and Game culled 9. They called it "a success."
On top of this, they had an agreement with Park Service not to take more than 6 wolves per year from the packs that move in and out of the reserve, and that they would NOT take the collared wolves at all. According to the head of park management, the shooter saw the collars and decided to shoot anyway. I'm not sure how reliable he is as a source, since he does have a vested interest in the studies, but that's what's being reported.
I know wolves aren't really endangered in Alaska, but I wouldn't exactly call their story much of a triumph, either. They're viewed as a threat. Not to us, but to the things we want to kill and eat for ourselves.
So the end result is that we now have 15 or so wolves left in the reserve, because they were worried they might hurt the population growth of a herd of tens of thousands. A herd which, according to some fish and game PDFs I downloaded from their site, they want to be able to harvest around 1-2k caribou from this year alone via hunting.
These numbers... they just don't make sense to me. I mean, I found plenty of insane fuckers with websites on both sides of the issue that want to tell me what to think of it all, but they hardly sound like rational folk.
And what's more... Are the two events related? Did the killing of a teacher somehow make them think they'd be able to sell this kind of more overtly aggressive culling more easily? Is it just that vacation hunting from other states and countries is such a huge source of income that, well, fuck the wolves I've got money to make? Or is that just my human mind trying to find motivation for something that, on the surface, seems to make no sense?
Some things are just beyond my grasp.
It bothers me. We want to save the Caribou because we can eat them. We want to save the wolves because they're cute. It's all how we 'feel' about them, or anything else, that makes us want to do something about it. What if I think this is wrong, just because it is wrong? The numbers, the methods, all of it. Seems like it needs to be re-thinked with everyone involved in the same room for once.
But I guess asking for rationality from Alaskan politics is a bit too much to ask.