Wolf-Protecting Oil Drilling Opponent Rep. George Miller Stands Squarely on Both Sides of the Caribou-Protection Issue

From Roll Call, a story about a generous offer by Alaska Rep. Don Young to the very liberal Rep. George Miller:

Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) wants California Democrat George Miller’s district to go to the wolves.

Young sent a ‘Dear Colleague’ missive Tuesday attacking Miller and the group Defenders of Wildlife for their efforts to make it illegal to shoot wildlife from aircraft, a common practice in Alaska to help control the wolf population. Young, who nicknamed Miller’s bill the ‘Wolves are Cute Act,’ told colleagues the sad tale of a constituent’s 10-year-old retriever, Buddy, who was killed by wolves.

Young proposed a solution that he thinks should satisfy everyone: Instead of passing legislation, just use the money the Defenders of Wildlife raised to herd Alaska’s wolves and transport them to Miller’s district. ‘This proposal is a win-win for everyone, and I would suggest my colleagues present it to Defenders of Wildlife representatives roaming the Capitol this week,’ Young wrote.

So far, the Alaska Republican has gotten support from many Western states, according to his spokesman Steve Hansen…

I bet he has. People who live with the possibility of encountering potentially lethal wild animals on their own land tend to have a more passionate interest in predator control programs than do people in urban and suburban neighborhoods.

Nevertheless, we cannot discount the passion of environmentalist do-gooders, who always side with animals, even against other animals. Their allies don’t delude themselves entirely, however: When press hound Rep. Miller had a press conference touting his bill (H.R. 3663, the Protect America’s Wildlife Act, or PAW Act — get it?) to outlaw airborne hunting, he invited an Arctic Grey Wolf — and then had his staff issue a warning to everyone present that food was not allowed near the press conference.

Perhaps this nod to the wolf’s lethal nature is why Miller’s bill doesn’t outlaw poisoning wolves, or shooting them out the window of one’s truck. Or maybe he’ll get to that later. The environmentalists may prefer to raise money fighting wolf poisoning some other time.

Miller ludicrously claims shooting a wolf from the air is “unfair”; by that standard, shooting them at all should be banned. What wolf ever shot a human?

But then we have to remember that the point of the predator control program is not to save humans, but moose and caribou, animals so near and dear to the hearts of environmentalists that they’ve repeatedly managed to stop drilling in the oil-rich Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, lest a caribou be mildly discomfited. (Ignore for a moment that caribou populations rose after oil drilling in Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay.)

So there we have the priorities of liberal Rep. George Miller.

When American needs energy independence, and Alaska natives need jobs, Rep. George Miller sides against them and with the caribou. But let an environmental organization decide that the state of Alaska shouldn’t use airplanes to kill under 200 wolves a year to protect caribou, caribou health suddenly isn’t so important anymore.

Indeed, the Arctic Grey Wolf present at Miller’s press conference is fed an average of five pounds of meat every day.

Including caribou.

Bonus: You can read more of Rep. George Miller’s views on ANWR in this newsletter (PDF) by the ardently-anti drilling Alaska Wilderness League, which lobbied Congress against ANWR drilling in 2006. The group’s newsletter thanks the following corporations for helping to make its lobbying work possible: Bank of America, Monsanto, PG&E, Microsoft, American Express (via its foundation, which is an interesting, as foundations rarely fund overt lobbying) and Ameriprise.

Double bonus: Find what the National Center for Public Policy Research has published concerning ANWR and caribou here.

Issue background: For the last five years Alaska has run a predator control program to increase moose and caribou populations and to protect other animals. It is targeted mostly at wolves, but also at grizzly and black bears. Under 700 (671 is the latest number I’ve seen) wolves have been killed in this program.

Predator control programs are not new to Alaska. They existed among Alaskan Native Americans before European contact. The territory of Alaska paid bounties for predator killing as early as 1915; the federal government, by the 1920s. Predator control by aircraft has been official policy off-and-on during that time.

For more information on the state’s perspective, I recommend these papers by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Wildlife Conservation. For more on Rep. Miller’s views, go to one of his press conferences — but don’t take a snack with you.

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