Alaska Rep. Don Young linked the U.S. homeless population to the wolf population in an outburst Thursday before the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee. After it became national news, with headlines quoting him as saying wolves would get rid of homeless people, he released a statement saying people may have "misunderstood my comments."
"We've got 79 congressmen sending you a letter, haven't got a damn wolf in their whole district," Young said at the hearing. "I'd like to introduce them in your district. If I introduced them in your district, you wouldn't have a homeless problem anymore."
He was referring to a letter signed by 79 House members asking Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to reconsider the action of taking the gray wolf off the Endangered Species List. They proposed that it be listed as threatened and that some protection be retained.
This came just after Young lectured Jewell on what he said was the problem in her department. He said there are a bunch of employees who act without consulting with the state or with Native Alaskans. "They go like this to the state of Alaska," he said, putting his thumb on his nose and wiggling his fingers, a gesture of disrespect.
After the hearing drew widespread news coverage, Young said the "analogy I made today was intended to be hyperbolic in nature," according to a written statement posted on his website.
"If you misunderstood my comments, just imagine the impact a healthy wolf population would have on your own town, community or congressional district. It would wreak havoc and place anything in their reach in great jeopardy," Young was quoted as saying.