Thursday, September 4, 2008

Dolores Umbridge and the wolves

A bit of slightly lazy blogging today, in that I'm borrowing much of this from Defenders of Wildlife. I will point out first that I don't always see eye to eye with DoW. One action I did admire was their compensation program for ranchers in Yellowstone region who could document stock losses caused by wolf depredation. This innovative, straightforward measure did much to ameliorate tensions in and around Yellowstone. Moreover, they were on the right side of the issue—returning wolves to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem—while a few other conservation groups, notably the National Audubon Society, opposed the reintroduction on the grounds that 10(j) designation as a "non-essential experimental" population reduced legal protection for (purely hypothetical) wolves that might wander in from other parts of the country where they enjoyed full ESA protection. Unfortunately, DoW later fell into the same sort of thinking—"protecting" individual animals from a carefully-designed program that would have no negative effect on populations—when they opposed an extremely limited and highly regulated take of eyas peregrines in the western U.S. for falconry.

They're on the right side of this one, though. Like most conservation groups and, indeed, hunters worthy of the designation, they are opposed to aerial hunting of predators like wolves and bears. Unfortunately the Repulican nominee for vice-president, Sarah Palin, thinks aerial shoots (and bounties on wolves) are a great idea.

Here's some more information on her record as governor of Alaska, courtesy of Defenders of Wildlife:

Sarah Palin and the Environment

Governor Sarah Palin has an extreme anti-conservation record on issues ranging from global warming, energy and drilling to wildlife and habitat protection.

Aerial hunting of wolves and bears

Governor Palin is an active promoter of Alaska's aerial hunting program whereby wolves and bears are shot from the air or chased by airplanes to the point of exhaustion before the pilot lands the plane and a gunner shoots the animals point blank.

Palin offered a $150 bounty for wolves to entice hunters to kill more wolves in certain parts of the state, with hunters having to present a wolf's foreleg to collect the bounty.

She actively opposed a ballot measure campaign seeking to end the aerial hunting of wolves by private hunters and approved a $400,000 state-funded campaign aimed at swaying people's votes on the issue.

She also introduced legislation to make it easier to kill wolves and bears and which would have also removed the aerial hunting initiative from the ballot and block the ability of citizens to vote on the issue.

The Board of Game, which she appoints, has approved the killing of black bear sows with cubs as part of the program and expanded the aerial control programs.

The media is currently looking into reports that state officials implementing one of the aerial wolf killing programs illegally killed five-week old wolf pups just outside their dens.

Global Warming

As recently as August 2008, Governor Palin questioned whether man-made fossil fuel emissions are responsible for global warming, defying worldwide scientific consensus (Newsmax 8/29/08). And her drill-drill-drill approach to energy issues will do nothing to ease the causes of global warming, promote the use of clean, renewable energy sources, or break our addiction to foreign oil.

Endangered Species

Palin has repeatedly opposed the listing of endangered animals under the Endangered Species List despite overwhelming scientific evidence that such listings are warranted.

Polar Bear

The U.S. Geological Survey predicts that loss of summer sea ice - crucial habitat for polar bears - could lead to the demise of two-thirds of the world's polar bears by mid-century, including all of Alaska's polar bears. The Bush administration has proposed listing the polar bears as threatened under the ESA to help protect polar bear habitat from threats such as oil and gas development.

Governor Palin has actively opposed the listing of the polar bear despite the fact that Alaska's top marine mammal biologists agreed with the federal scientists who believed the bear should be listed. She wrote the Secretary of Interior urging him not to list the bear on the ground it might hurt the state's oil- and gas-dependent economy. After the bear was listed, she recently filed suit seeking to overturn the listing of polar bears.

Beluga Whales

Alaska's Cook Inlet beluga whales are a unique group of white whales whose numbers have dramatically declined in the past two decades due to pressures ranging from pollution to increased ship traffic. Governor Palin opposes the listing of the Cook Inlet beluga whales, citing the listing as a threat to oil and gas development, despite their genetic uniqueness and the fact that their numbers have decreased from 1,300 in the 1980s to about 350 today.


Palin is a strong supporter of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a vital wilderness area. It is home to hundreds of thousands of caribou who use the refuge as a calving ground, more than one million migratory birds, and countless other wildlife. It's the most important onshore denning habitat for female polar bears. Senator McCain himself has repeatedly voted to protect this pristine wilderness area. Palin is also a supporter of drilling in Bristol Bay and other offshore sites despite the risks to sensitive marine wildlife in the area, including the endangered polar bear and Beluga whale.

Clean Water and Pebble Mine

Governor Palin actively campaigned against a state ballot measure this summer aimed at protecting Alaska's Bristol Bay. The mining industry seeks to develop a gold and copper mine in the area that would pollute the Bay's headwaters and threaten the spawning grounds for the largest remaining wild salmon run. The initiative would have prevented large-scale mining operations from dumping waste materials into salmon watersheds.

I already had concerns about Dolores Umbridge—excuse me, I mean Governor Palin—being a heartbeat away from the Oval Office. But while I can't say the above information surprises me, it does still shock me a little.

You can express your opposition to aerial hunting by purchasing this nifty pin from Wm. Spear Design in Anchorage. (I can't believe this is the first time the link has appeared at Flyover Country; I'm a huge fan of Bill's work.)

And you might also consider not voting for the McCain/Palin ticket this November.

(HT Julie for putting this on my radar.)

1 comment:

Remchick said...

I love the Delores Umbridge part! Things like that make me happy! :-)