Enviro Group Expands Palin Wolf-Hunting Policy Ad Buy
Updated 5:57 p.m.
By Juliet Eilperin
Capitalizing on the success of its hard-hitting ad questioning Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's support for predator control, a national environmental group is expanding its television buy in time for Thursday night's vice presidential debate.
The ad by Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, which focuses on Palin's backing for aerial killing and tracking of wolves, as well as grizzly and black bears in Alaska, has generated $1 million in contributions for Defenders and spread across the Internet on liberal blogs.
The independent HCD Research and the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion, which has been testing several campaign ads this season, recently concluded it ranks as one of the campaign's most effective ads. The commercial moved viewers -- regardless of their party identification -- slightly toward backing Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, according to a poll of 312 people.
The ad is already airing in Florida, Michigan, Ohio and northern Virgina, will hit the airwaves in Colorado tomorrow and Wisconsin on Friday. It will also air in Missouri, just on Thursday night, during the vice presidential debate.
"Aerial killing of wolves may not be your standard national election issue, but it is one that helps illuminate an important part of Sarah Palin's character," said President of Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund Rodger Schlickeisen. "We believe voters deserve to know about her support for this brutal practice, and we are confident the issue can move votes as we head into the home stretch of this campaign."
As governor Palin worked to expand Alaska's aerial wolf killing program, which lets private citizens with licenses fly in private planes and shoot wolves from the air or chase them to exhaustion before landing and shooting them point blank. In March 2007, she launched a new program to pay 180 volunteer pilots and gunners $150 for each severed left foreleg of a wolf they turned in to the state Fish and Game Department.
In a dark tone, the ad's female narrator details the program's most gruesome aspects as it shows footage of a wolf being chased and killed in the snow.
"As Alaska governor, Sarah Palin actively promotes the brutal and unethical aerial killing of wolves and other wildlife," the narrator says. "Using a low-flying plane, they kill in winter when there is no way to escape. Riddled with gunshots, biting at their backs in agony, the die a brutal death. And Palin even encouraged the cruelty by proposing a $150 bounty for the severed foreleg of each killed wolf."
"Do we really want a vice president who champions such savagery?" the narrator concludes.
Palin has been an unabashed proponent of killing wolves and other predators in Alaska on the grounds that they cut back on humans' ability to hunt moose and caribou for themselves. During a 2006 gubernatorial debate Palin was asked to name one policy of then-Gov. Frank Murkowski she embraced, and she identified his predator control stand as one she appreciated.
"Interior Alaskans were really begging for some assistance there, and Governor Murkowski did do that one right," she said.
Amber Wilkerson, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, said the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund was ignoring the role game hunting plays in rural Alaska. "Aerial predator control is essential to sustaining the threatened moose and caribou population that many native Alaskans rely upon to feed their families," she said. "This program, which requires a permit and is closely monitored, is essential to the subsistence of lifestyle in rural Alaska."
However Jessica Brand, an official the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, said that Palin has opposed a "rural preference" policy that would give subsistence hunters priority access over sport hunters to the areas where aerial hunting is conducted.
Posted at 1:32 PM ET on Oct 1, 2008
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