Alaska Officials Using Copyright To Try To Stifle Images Of Killed Wolves

from the free-speech? dept

So, we just had the story of police in the UK trying to abuse copyright to prevent the showing of speed camera photos. Now we've got a somewhat similar story in the US, pointed to us by Michael Scott, involving officials in Alaska using copyright to try to force offline photos of "aerial wolf kills." Apparently, the Alaskan gov't goes around and shoots wolves from helicopters to control the wolf population. Not surprisingly, some find this rather distasteful. One wildlife protection group obtained the government's photos of killed wolves from March of this year using a public records request, and put them online... at which point the gov't claimed that it was a copyright violation.

This seems questionable on a variety of fronts. In the US, we tend to have problems with the idea that gov't should copyright things. The federal gov't can't, though state gov'ts often have more leeway and often do claim copyright over documents (though, it can be controversial). More importantly, though, once again, this is clearly not the intention of copyright. It's quite obviously copyright law being used (yet again) to stifle free expression from protesters -- a form of free speech which should trump copyright law absolutely. Of course, in the end, like so many attempts to stifle speech, this is backfiring. The effort to suppress the photos is only serving to draw much more attention to them.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Super Duper Looper, Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 8:18am

    Alaska... meet streisand effect. Streisand effect... meet Alaska.

     

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  2.  
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    Raquel, Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 8:25am

    Ummm

    And they're photographing the kills in the first place why?

     

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  3.  
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    No Imagination (profile), Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 8:29am

    Re: Ummm

    To collect their bounty?

     

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  4.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 8:32am

    Re: Ummm

    Pssh! Duh... so the guy flying the helicopter and the guy working the rifle can be out drinking beer, and when one says to the other "Hey, remember that one wolf we killed?" The other one says "No, which one?" And then they guy can pull out a photo and be all like "this one." (Other guy says "oh yeah, that one.")

     

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  5.  
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    Shawn (profile), Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 8:36am

    well gosh the pictures have a watermark that clearly says (Copyright) Alaska Fish and Game Dept. May not be used without expressed written permission.
    No need to get in the triviality of whether or not it is legal to copyright public records it says right on them they are copyright protected! And although the lighting was not under the Fish and Game Depts control they seemed to have posed the corpses which would make it art!!

    /sarcasm

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 8:41am

    Other than the headline of the linked article and a graphic inserted by the group that created the video, I did not find anything supporting the proposition that the State of Alaska is trying to suppress dissemination of the photos under copyright or any other law.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 8:44am

    I know I've read in the past that there are even some Laws that are copyrighted, although in that case by a private company.

     

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  8.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 8:46am

    At what temperature does blood boil?

    Disclaimer: I have two dogs for roomates, I make a habit of volunteering for animal shelters and rights groups, and I tend to like most animals more than I like most people.

    "Apparently, the Alaskan gov't goes around and shoots wolves from helicopters to control the wolf population"

    What a joke. They aren't trying to control wolf population, they're trying to control livestock/farming/etc. population. Everytime I hear some hunter/govt. official/lobbyist/etc. talk about how deer/wolves/fish/etc.are overpopulated I have two questions:

    1. Overpopulated from whose point of view, exactly. Because I'm fairly certain that from most of the natural world's point of view, WE'RE the ones that are overpopulated. So why aren't their bands of wolf banditos, regularly creeping into heavily populated areas, and doing US the favor of euthanizing a significant portion of our population(also known as ripping us to fucking pieces, but euthanize sounds better).

    2. What reason do I, as someone who is observant of how we conduct ourselves in the natural world, have to believe that some government official has a plan to "restore balance to nature" by killing off hundreds or thousands of natural predetors. Tell you what, you ignorant fuckheads, leave it to nature. I promise you the natural world will sort this all out. That might, however, mean that your bottom line drops a bit because your Yak/Elk farms lose part of their heard.

    "Not surprisingly, some find this rather distasteful. One wildlife protection group obtained the government's photos of killed wolves from March of this year using a public records request."

    Ok, first thing's first. I know it's been done to death, but am I the only one that pictured Sarah Palin (wo)manning a chain gun on the side of some Vietnam era Bell helicopter in a full Rambo outfit. Picture her hair blowing in the wind, a smirk on her bispectacled face, as her bossoms rock in a dark camo tank top with the sway of the helicopter and her cutoff shorts glistening with sweat as she unloads round after round into a grey wolf that had the gall to inhabit its natural environment.

    The next question I have is why in the world is the government taking and retaining photographs of these dead terrorist wolves? It can't be for any kind of compliance, since they're denying the use of the photographs by watchdog organizations. My suspician is that they're contracting out the duty to wolf-mercenary groups and paying them per kill, which of course is a lovely way to make sure that any intention to benefit the natural world via these means goes right the fuck out the window as these money-starved independent death merchants kill as many animals as possible to make the most money.

    God I hate Alaska right now. My Alaskan Husky also would like me to issue fair warning to the Alaskan govt.: she says that if they don't cut it out with the bullshit, she's going to engage in a smear campaign that literally involves smearing dog poop on all govt. employee's houses, like some kind of insane anti-Moses movement. Her words, not mine.

     

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  9.  
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    hegemon13, Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 8:47am

    Re: Ummm

    These are not trophies. They are filed as official government documents. Clearly, the photos are for some kind of record-keeping or accountability. Seems odd, but who knows with government bureaucracy? Maybe they just want to ensure that the contractors they hire to thin the population are actually doing their job.

    This protest group should definitely have the right to publish the photos, even though their stance is stupid and uneducated. Maybe someone should show them pictures of wolves dying from mange, rabies, etc. That's what happens when the population is not controlled, and it is far more devastating to the wolf population. Sad, but true. Nature's a bitch.

    This is not unusual, either. State wildlife/game departments often have to kill mass numbers of deer to control deer populations in the US Midwest. It used to be controlled almost solely through hunting, but fewer people are hunting today, and the populations are getting way out of control.

     

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  10.  
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    Matt Bennett, Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 8:49am

    I'm not an animal rights activist. If some intervention has to be done with animal popultaions, I'm fine with it. For instance, here in the the North East, we have too man deer, due to lack of wolves, actually, and the deer destroy the woodland ecosystem to a degree. So active hunting of them (which sport hunters are frankly usually enough) is fine. But the thing is, in Alaska, they're killing to wolves specifically so that there will be more deer to hunt for the sports hunters. How lame is that? If there were too many wolves, they would starve on their own. Gah.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 8:54am

    Re:

    "I did not find anything supporting the proposition that the State of Alaska is trying to suppress dissemination of the photos under copyright or any other law."

    But the original article was written by a mainstream media outlet. How could it not be 100% accurate and fact checked? It's not like it came from a blog or anything!

     

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  12.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 9:09am

    Re:

    You have a point there. Why would this Amy Lou Jenkins title her article "Alaska Officials claim Copyright infringement of photos" and then not point out a C&D or a lawsuit. In fact, there isn't anything about an infringement claim, only that the photos are under copyright. And that's just a note on the picture not anything to do with the article. It seems that Ms. Jenkins is just using that to gather more attention.

     

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  13.  
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    Avatar28 (profile), Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 9:17am

    population control

    While I don't know that there are too many wolves in Alaska, the number of predators will tend to balance itself out with the available food supply, there ARE too many deer in most of the US. Because man has gone and chased out most of the predators of the deer, especially wolves but also coyotes, cougars, etc, there is much less control on their population. They still breed but fewer of them die off and so they overforage and overpoop which harms the ecosystem. This results in a number of deer starving and/or dying of various diseases that wouldn't normally happen. Basically, since man has eliminated the natural predators of the deer, man must take their place in the food chain.

    I know around here there are still plenty of hunters, but I also live in the south. I also know that the government sponsors hunts even in wildlife preserve areas to keep populations under control. A few months ago, Ft Campbell even held a deer hunt and let the public come in and go hunting (there were a limited number of slots, of course). Not sure why the army couldn't do it. You would think they would be well equipped and that it would be good practice for the troops but, hey, whatever.

     

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  14.  
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    Matt Tate (profile), Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 9:20am

    Re: Re: Ummm

    :Lobo Santo, as a wolf yourself who is also a saint, how do you feel about this population control?

     

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  15.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 9:23am

    Re:

    Where do you think those wolves go if they start to starve? They start wandering into populated areas and turn into those roving bands of human euthanizers like Dark Helmet up there pointed out (by the way, the wolves will go after the huskies too). The wolves won't starve, they'll start digging threw trash cans, going after pets and potentially children. Packs follow the food, and if that food goes to Anchorage, that's where they'll go. I don't like the idea of shooting them from helicopters, but I don't have any better ideas.

    It's the same problem in the north east. The deer become over populated, run out of food and go into residential areas. They will dig threw trash, destroy property and can get quite dangerous to pets and children.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 9:32am

    Re: At what temperature does blood boil?

    to answer your question, the boiling point of blood is nearly identical to the boiling point of water, so about 212 Fahrenheit or 100 Celsius

     

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  17.  
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    fatcat, Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 9:57am

    Re: At what temperature does blood boil?

    where do you sign up for the hunt?
    WOW this is HOT!!!!! where can i get a copy of the video?
    "Ok, first thing's first. I know it's been done to death, but am I the only one that pictured Sarah Palin (wo)manning a chain gun on the side of some Vietnam era Bell helicopter in a full Rambo outfit. Picture her hair blowing in the wind, a smirk on her bispectacled face, as her bossoms rock in a dark camo tank top with the sway of the helicopter and her cutoff shorts glistening with sweat as she unloads round after round into a grey wolf that had the gall to inhabit its natural environment.

     

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  18.  
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    Gyroc, Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 10:01am

    So their mad that the photos which where public record where put onto the internet allowing the public + others to view them easier?...

     

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  19.  
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    Nikki Thomas, Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 10:05am

    Serves them Right

    Alaska trying cover up thier dirty work is wrong. They shoud get this attention and have it backfire on them. Serves them right. -Nikki-

     

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  20.  
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    hegemon13, Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 10:25am

    Re: population control

    They allow the public to do it so that it's less of a waste. If the army does it, they have several hundred deer carcasses to dispose of. If the public does it, many of the hunters will use the meat, eliminating the need to dispose of the carcasses and making the slaughter more useful and productive instead of a waste. Makes perfect sense to me.

     

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  21.  
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    Hulser (profile), Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 10:37am

    Re: Re:

    It does seem rather pointless to get worked up about Alaska abusing copyright when there's no information provided in the linked article to support the assertion. Would I be surprised if a government were abusing copyright in this way? No, but until there's at least some proof that this is what Alaska is doing, it's a non-issue.

     

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  22.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 10:39am

    Re: Re: population control

    "They allow the public to do it so that it's less of a waste. If the army does it, they have several hundred deer carcasses to dispose of. If the public does it, many of the hunters will use the meat, eliminating the need to dispose of the carcasses and making the slaughter more useful and productive instead of a waste. Makes perfect sense to me."

    First of all, that's the most backwards thing I've ever heard. If you are paying the public per kill, you've given them an incentive to overkill. Why would the army, which has had a presence in Alaska for decades, have any reason to overkill these animals? Unless you think that the army is filled with NOTHING but teenage hotheads just itchin' fer a chance ter shoot something cuz they didn't graduate high school. Not saying that's what you're saying, I just don't see any other possibility for your logic.

    But more importantly, why does it have to be the Army or the public? Why can't it be, I don't know, state-funded animal control? Maybe use a little of that stimulus money and EMPLOY people to do the job? Or the EPA. or the state's Wildlife Rangers?

     

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  23.  
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    hegemon13, Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 11:30am

    Re: Re: Re: population control

    First, please read the post I responded to. It had nothing to do with your precious wolves, but rather a deer hunt in Ft. Campbell.

    "First of all, that's the most backwards thing I've ever heard. If you are paying the public per kill, you've given them an incentive to overkill."

    No one ever said anything about paying the public to kill. I said that the public would use the meat, where the army would throw it away. Don't quite know what your trying to say here, except blindly attacking with ad-hominem hyperbole.

    As far as overkill, again, read the post I responded to. The poster specifically stated that this was a regulated event with a limited number of slots. Basically, they ran it the same way any wildlife department runs any other hunting season.

    "Why would the army, which has had a presence in Alaska for decades, have any reason to overkill these animals?"

    Um, I don't know what the Army presence in Alaska would have to do with a hunt in Fort Campbell, KY.

    "Unless you think that the army is filled with NOTHING but teenage hotheads just itchin' fer a chance ter shoot something cuz they didn't graduate high school."

    Again, complete nonsense that has nothing to do with my post. I simply said that, if the army handled it, they would have to dispose of the carcasses, and the meat would go to waste. If they allow the public to take part in the hunt (like any hunting season), the meat gets used and the Army doesn't have to figure out what to do with the carcasses.

    "But more importantly, why does it have to be the Army or the public? Why can't it be, I don't know, state-funded animal control? Maybe use a little of that stimulus money and EMPLOY people to do the job? Or the EPA. or the state's Wildlife Rangers?"

    What's your point? If you're opposed to controlling wildlife populations, why does it matter who does the hunting? If not, why not allow the public to do it? Hunting is a regulated program with very stiff penalties for poaching. Few in the world are as opposed to poaching as ethical hunters, and few have more respect for wildlife and habitat preservation. Despite your misinformed impressions, hunters are not just a bunch of "teenage hotheads just itchin' fer a chance ter shoot something cuz they didn't graduate high school," either.

    All your concern about paying the public is completely confused and misplaced. Hunters don't get paid by the state to hunt. Just the opposite, in fact. Hunters pay money TO the state for permits.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 11:34am

    Re: At what temperature does blood boil?

    You blood boils at ignorance. WE ARE THEIR PREDATORS YOU TARD!

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 11:36am

    Re: Re: At what temperature does blood boil?

    My bad you are clearly just dumb.

     

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  26.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 11:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: population control

    I admittedly didn't understand the context of most of your post. Totally and 100% completely my bad. However:

    "All your concern about paying the public is completely confused and misplaced. Hunters don't get paid by the state to hunt. Just the opposite, in fact. Hunters pay money TO the state for permits."

    That may be the case in some/many/most states and areas, I don't know. I only know my two personal experiences. In both southern Illinois and Northern Minnesota, they pay the public per wolf/cayote carcass, they being the local governments. That needs to stop, IMHO.

     

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  27.  
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    John Doe, Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 11:52am

    Something people seem to forget...

    All the evolutionists here complain that when we shoot critters but they forget that we are just predators of the highest order. Why is it ok for animals in the wild to kill other animals, but we as human animals cannot kill other animals? Just a thought.

     

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  28.  
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    Ryan, Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 12:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: population control

    I imagine some municiplaities offer financial incentive to hunt certain animals that are overpopulated. I know in my parents' suburb a while back, wolves showed up for a summer and were roaming around killing pets. Obviously, something needed to be done to neutralize them, but a number of people were opposed to that. To which the obvious question becomes: what are you supposed to do then, put your pets and kids in danger and let the unlucky ones die? Focused population control is a matter of societal utility, like anything else(legal imprisonment, execution, euthanasia, self-defense, police, military, etc.)

     

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  29.  
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    xl_target (profile), Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 12:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: population control

    Hey Dark, Take that helmet off for a sec and let some air in. There is NO bounty in Minnesota. The last bounty was paid in 1965 when the program ended. Wolves are still on the Threatened list and cannot be taken in any way except in defense of human life. Only government trapper may remove wolves for live stock and other depredations. As far as Southern Illinois, there were no wolves in Southern Illinois as far back as 1974 when wolves were put on the endangered species list. You been hanging around too many newspaper guys? Check your facts dude.

     

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  30.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 12:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: population control

    "I imagine some municiplaities offer financial incentive to hunt certain animals that are overpopulated"

    My original question stands. If man comes in, wrecks the ecology through farming practices and killing the predetor, he THEN gets to justify killing the prey because they're overpopulated? Isn't overpopulation a matter of perspective? Wouldn't the animal consider HUMANS being so over populated that they need to keep expanding their territory?

    "I know in my parents' suburb a while back, wolves showed up for a summer and were roaming around killing pets. Obviously, something needed to be done to neutralize them, but a number of people were opposed to that."

    I'm not one of them. Man's already moved in, so something must be done. There is a couple of things you CAN do, however. First, recognize and document the effect man's actions have had and begin to build an understanding that some places should be pretty much left alone to the animals (there's no reason we can't ALL have space). Secondly, you take steps to REMOVE the predetors to areas where they aren't a threat. One option is to take predators from where they are overpopulated to areas where prey is overpopulated. Another is zoos. Some of the animals might need to be killed, but not nearly as many as if you loose public hunters on them.

    "To which the obvious question becomes: what are you supposed to do then, put your pets and kids in danger and let the unlucky ones die?"

    Absolutely not. After all, man's life is worth every bit as much as any animal's. But we can LEARN from the experience and endeavor to do things better in the future. Let's face facts, in nearly every case, these overpopulation conditions are the result of man's interference in nature. Otherwise, nature will usually work it out on its own through a rebalancing of predator/prey levels.

     

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  31.  
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    martymar, Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 12:26pm

    Re:

    So this is actually the more humane way of dealing with the excess population ;)

     

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  32.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 12:35pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: population control

    I'm probably mixing up Cayotes/wolves/etc. I have family hunting Cayotes in Southern Illinois on a regular basis. Specifics bad, yes, point still remains.

     

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  33.  
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    xl_target (profile), Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 12:59pm

    Bounty programs don't usually make much of a dent in the population. A lot fewer people are hunting/trapping now than even ten years ago. Biologists figure about 1% of the population might get taken due to bounties. Not enough to make any kind of a difference. It's also cheaper in most cases to run a bounty program than to have state workers cull the population. With Coyotes, you will earn your money. They're smart, have sharp senses and avoid humans usually.
    If one thinks that one can just go out in the woods and they will just line up to be shot... not going to happen.

     

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  34.  
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    hegemon13, Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 1:41pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: population control

    "My original question stands. If man comes in, wrecks the ecology through farming practices and killing the predetor, he THEN gets to justify killing the prey because they're overpopulated?"

    Yes, it IS our responsibility to stabilize and maintain the ecology we have disrupted, and it is in our best interest. If ignored, the prey would be much more likely to encounter a cataclysmic, endangering event, such as a massive disease outbreak, due to decreased habitat and overpopulation.

    "Isn't overpopulation a matter of perspective? Wouldn't the animal consider HUMANS being so over populated that they need to keep expanding their territory?"

    Um, first of all, you are anthropomorphizing animals. They wouldn't consider us at all, and they don't have a "perspective" from which to consider us. Second, what is your solution? Start killing humans? Take away technology? If so, quit being a hypocrite. Get off the Internet, turn off your electricity, tear down your house to plant a field for habitat, and go live off the land in a cave somewhere.

    The fact is, humans are here to stay, and I, being a human, am okay with that. Since that is the case, we have to work within the framework of that reality, which means doing what we can to preserve what wildlife we can. Sometimes, that means population control. Either we do it humanely, or nature does it very painfully.

     

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  35.  
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    Peter Stinson, Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 1:45pm

    Interesting. I know that the federal government cannot copyright anything. Everything done officially for the federal government is in the public domain. Wonder what makes Alaska different... or´╗┐ have they used the copyright inappropriately? The citizens of Alaska paid for, and own, those photographs...

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 2:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: population control

    Hi, I'm an apex predator that doesn't eat meat. :p

     

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  37.  
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    Mavrick, Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 6:16pm

    Hey Joe six pack ... it is Alaska dontJaNo

     

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  38.  
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    Major, Jul 24th, 2009 @ 2:41am

    Controling the human population

    "Apparently, the Alaskan gov't goes around and shoots wolves from helicopters to control the wolf population."

    I believe that we should go around and shoots Alaska government agents from helicopters to control the governement agents population. LOL!

    The images are copyrighted and this posting is copyrighted too and shall not be reproduced. LOL!

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    ak_girl_79, Jul 24th, 2009 @ 11:49am

    Re:

    Do your research most Alaskan hunters don't hunt for SPORT. Many people in Alaska live on subsistence hunting and fishing! They don't go to a grocery store to buy meat, they shoot it and prepare it themselves. Living in a remote wilderness village, it is their ONLY source of food.

     

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  40.  
    identicon
    kim.mcneal, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 8:41pm

    Re: At what temperature does blood boil?

    I could not have said it any better.

     

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  41.  
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    Slagar the Slayer, Sep 2nd, 2010 @ 3:51pm

    ok so heres your choice: let a couple of flee bitten inbred wolfs with diseases die,or allow farm animals,outside pets,and people die because there are to many wolfs and not enough prey in the forest. your choice Alaska. shouldn't be that hard!

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 14th, 2012 @ 2:17pm

    if you think peeps can just kill wolves....... ugh some peeps are just sooooooooooooo dumb!

     

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