Swift Boat Watch: Defenders of Wildlife

See all Swift Boat Watch entries here .

Who They Are: Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund

Purpose: Protecting endangered species by promoting the election of pro-environment lawmakers

Senior Director: William Lutz

Funding: According to the WSJ , the group is funded mostly by small donors.

Cost: The group says it spent hundreds of thousands of dollars for airtime but would not specify an exact amount.

Where It Ran: The ad has run in Florida, Ohio, and Michigan and will expand into Colorado and Northern Virginia.

Claims: The spot crosscuts between images of Sarah Palin and footage of aerial hunting, stating that Palin supported aerial hunting and also proposed a $150 bounty fee for the foreleg of any killed wolves in order to encourage the practice.

Accuracy: The ad describes the basics of Palin’s record correctly but fails to mention the rationale for aerial hunting, which supporters refer to as “predator control.” These proponents argue that killing gray wolves, which are abundant in Alaska though they have been on and off the endangered species list in the continental United States, is necessary to maintain sufficient levels of moose and caribou for subsistence hunters that rely on those animals for their food. Whether the policy really helps these hunters is another question. Various groups of scientists have also questioned the logic of the policy, saying it didn’t consider the imperative of maintaining predator populations. Critics have also said that predator-control operations should be limited to fish and game agents.

Swift Boat Rating:

The ad gets the essentials of Palin’s record right. While some may disagree with its characterization of aerial hunting, the characterization is not blatantly unfair.

Background: After Palin proposed the bounty on wolves’ forelegs, Defenders of Wildlife themselves filed a lawsuit that forced her to back off the policy.