By CRAIG MEDRED
To understand why a small mob of law enforcement officers converged on the Alaska state courthouse in downtown Anchorage Monday to head off what looked to be a simple hearing heading rapidly toward a full-scale riot, you have to go back more than a decade in time to some dead wolves and track forward from there the crazy saga of David Haeg.
Haeg is a man who has dwelled for years on a questionable conviction for aerial hunting. He came into a courtroom looking for some form of justice only to end up face down on the floor with six court officers on top of him in front of a crowd of screaming supporters and his sobbing daughter.
He was then tased, handcuffed and led off jail.
But this only begins to capture the craziness of a story about state officials who might, or might not, have lied; of a state court judge, who might or might not have conspired to convict an innocent man; and of a man who in some ways never really grew up.
At the center of all of this is Haeg, an emotional 51-year-old who never got past that stage we all go through in childhood where we think life should be fair. It’s not. At some point in time, it wrongs all of us. It kicked Haeg in the gut.
Back in 2004, Haeg helped gun down some wolves in Central Alaska because he thought that was what the state wanted. Only a year earlier, the Alaska Board of Game had approved a predator-control program calling for aerial wolf hunts.
The program quickly exploded into a public relations nightmare. Outside animal-rights activists threatened a tourism boycott. “Howl-ins” were organized in major U.S. cities as a form of protest.
“In Alaska, the wolf wars have taken a sobering turn for the worst,” the New York Times opined on March 14, 2014. “In nearly 20,000 square miles of the state it is now legal for private citizens to shoot wolves from airplanes and helicopters. In one district the limit has been increased from 10 wolves a year to 10 wolves a day.