13 Mar 2008, 8:28pm
Latest Wildlife News
by admin

Alaska Wolves to be Shot from Helicopters

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, March 12, 2008 (ENS) - The Alaska Board of Fish and Game has decided that about two dozen wolves from several packs on the southern Alaska Peninsula will be exterminated using aerial gunning to boost the caribou population.

The wolves have been killing newborn calves, said biologist Cathie Harms with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

The herd had an estimated 10,000 animals in 1983, but now numbers about 600.

Harms said Fish and Game staffers will use a helicopter to locate and kill the wolves from the air starting this spring. She said it is the first time since the mid-1980s that such an operation has been authorized.

A survey of the herd in 2006 discovered one calf per 100 cows, according to Fish and Game. That number decreased to 0.5 calves per 100 during a survey conducted last year, Harms said.

The department intends to give calves a chance to survive and restock the herd, which it says is important to subsistence hunters. … [more]

14 Mar 2008, 9:49am
by Will


For many years I researched and used Russian/Soviet sources to look at their experiences with wolves. There were many factors involved, but in general, when wolf populations were high in a given area the game population in that area went down. If the game population dropped to low enough levels to create a predation pit for a given game species, the Russians/Soviets would reduce the number of wolves in that area.

They found that culling the wolf population was necessary, and the most effective method was by air. They first used light aircraft (PO-2 and variations), and then later helicopters. They found that using helicopters was, in the long run, the least expensive and most effective method to cull wolves.

14 Mar 2008, 2:52pm
by Mike


The following comment was forwarded to me:

Aerial culling is a very effective strategy to remove both wolves and coyotes. For the latter, the Leopold Commission recommended it as the most practical alternative to poisoning. While helicopters are more effective than fixed wing in many of these operations, fixed wing can be used very effectively in many places for significantly less cost/hour of operation (approximately $300-800 for helicopter depending on whether piston or turbine aircraft are used versus $125-150 for fixed wing). Through the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Nevada and other state agencies are supporting/defending Alaska’s use of this method.

Closer to home, we actively support Wildlife Services use of aerial methods and we have entered into agreements with ranchers to use piston helicopters to remove coyotes for the mutual benefit of the livestock producer and the wildlife resource. For the little it’s worth, I’m pretty sure that I’m the only person to ever publish a paper on factors that improve the coyotes/hour of aerial hunting. The reference is: Mason, J. R., W. C. Pitt, and M. J. Bodenchuk. 2002. Factors influencing the efficiency of fixed wing aerial gunning for coyotes in the western United States. International Journal of Biodeterioration and Biodegradation. 49:189-197.

One topic of concern is that while Wildlife Services remains committed to remove wolves using aircraft in the Rocky Mountain DPS states, their western region has adopted a policy against the use of aircraft to remove wolves to protect wildlife resources (e.g., elk).

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