Letter: In response to Somerville’s and Bennett’s take on Denali wolves

Ron Somerville wrote an informed response to a previous letter writer’s (Joel Bennett) suggestion that the nearly extinct East Fork Toklat wolf family would be best protected by re-establishing a buffer zone on state land north of Denali National Park. Former Board of Game member Bennett recognizes that from a purely economic point of view, a dead wolf benefits one trapper, but a live wolf benefits thousands of Alaskans and millions of visitors who enjoy the once in a lifetime privilege of seeing or hearing a wolf. It’s an allocation issue. What’s the best way to “share” a wolf?

Yet Somerville, himself also a former BOG member, turned it into a “balance issue” between what he sees as the heavy hand of the National Park Service and the environmental community imposed upon the state. He claims NPS “has created a volatile adversarial relationship with the state.” In fact, the current members of the BOG, all trappers, hunters and big game guides — none shooting with a camera — have consistently represented only the 20 percent of Alaskans who have hunting licenses. For example, the BOG won’t allow the slightest change to trapping regulations that could prevent the trapping of dogs.

Yet Somerville’s complaint is beside the point. The point is this: the most continuously (70 years) studied wolf family in the world is down from 14 to 1 because of the failure of the state to recognize that the dollar value of a wolf is far greater alive than dead.

From my point of view, for this “resource”, the wolf, the best way to “achieve maximum benefit to Alaskans as required by the state constitution” (Somerville’s concern) is to create a no-take wildlife conservation easement on state lands north of Denali National Park.

Mark Luttrell