Alaska delays wolf kill to cool public outrage

December 06, 1992|By Los Angeles Times

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Confronted with public outrage, threats of an international tourism boycott and the biggest black eye to its image since the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Alaska has called a temporary halt on its plans to thin its wolf population by shooting 300 to 400.

But opponents of the plan vowed to push ahead to try to bring public pressure on behalf of the wolves.

Looking for breathing room in the stormy clash of values over the future of American's remaining wild lands, Gov. Wally Hickel announced Friday that he would organize a three-day "wolf summit" next month and suspend all predator control in the meantime. He said that he would invite conservationists to participate.

"We welcome their input. We want them to come up and see we're not out to kill wolves, we're out to manage our wildlife resources," the governor said in a statement. But a source in the Hickel administration added that environmentalists must be aware that "just saying no [to the kill] is an insufficient answer."

Environmental leaders expressed suspicion that the governor was merely seeking time for public emotions to cool before proceeding anew with the wolf kill.

"I smell a rat. This sounds to me like an effort to 'educate' those of us who have gone astray," said Nicole Evans of the Alaska Wildlife Federation.

Cleveland Amory's New York-based Fund For Animals planned to formalize a call for an international tourism boycott of Alaska tomorrow. Wayne Pacelle, the fund's director, said that the organization would not back down unless the wolf kill was ended rather than just delayed.

Tourism is the third biggest employer in Alaska, after government and the seafood industry.

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