Aerial gunning of wolves, a shameful, unlawful practice
By Albert de Zutter
Catholic Key Editor
WE ARE STEWARDS of God's creation, or so we are taught in our Scriptures. For a long time we distorted that charge, interpreting it as license to use and abuse the earth and its creatures for our amusement and profit. We now know that interpretation was wrong. We have no more right to pollute our God-given land, air and water, to mistreat members of any living species or to kill them unnecessarily than we have to kill other human beings.
We have too many instances of violations against our stewardship responsibilities to enumerate. When we can do something about even one of them, it is worth a try.
Defenders of Wildlife is doing its best to alert the nation to what it calls "the greatest wolf massacre since the 1950s" now taking place in Alaska. The reference is to the return of aerial gunning of wolves, the "sporting" practice of shooting wolves from airplanes, or running a wolf pack to exhaustion, then landing and blasting them at point-blank range. God save us from such "sport."
The practice is against federal law. However, appeals to our interior secretary, Gale Norton, to enforce the law are falling on deaf ears. The federal law, a section of the Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 as amended in 1972, prohibits harassing, capturing or killing birds, fish and other animals from aircraft, with the exception of those authorized "to administer or protect land, water, wildlife, livestock, domesticated animals, human life or corps." Clearly the aerial gunners are not "administrators" or "protectors" of wildlife and the land.
Despite the law, more than 100 wolves have already been gunned down in aerial hunts, under a regulation by Gov. Frank Murkowski of Alaska, in defiance of federal law.
The secretary of interior is responsible for enforcing the federal law, which also states that any federal judge may issue warrants upon probable cause. The law provides fines, and states that all animals taken, all guns, aircraft and other equipment used in violation of the law are subject to forfeiture.
Defenders of Wildlife is urging citizens to voice their opinions to save the wolf population from this shameful slaughter. Information is available on the Internet at www.savealaskawolves.org
A. de Z.