Letters to the Editor / Juneau Empire

Published Monday, January 20, 2003 through January 23, 2003


Protect Game, Not Predators

Letter to the Editor
Related Story: Gov. ponders wolf control

After reading the Empire article entitled "Governor ponders wolf control," I breathed a sigh of relief. Finally, a voice of reason. Last fall the Game Board in Anchorage ruled that we must protect the wolves on Douglas Island, even though our local Advisory Board was overwhelmingly against it. I thought it was the Game Board's responsibility to "protect game," not protect predators. A proper house-cleaning was definitely in order. I would like to congratulate the six new board members and wish them God speed in repealing the decisions in regards to game management and predator control.

Gov. Murkowski has also stated that he is not afraid of a tourist boycott. Ouch! How many toes did he step on with that remark? But he is absolutely right. Politics and the almighty dollar have no business dictating game management (or should I say mismanagement) in Alaska.

Ultimately, what is good for the game (and I'm not talking about predators) is good for the tourists that come to visit and better yet for the residents that live here.

Jeff Hendricks / Juneau


Unbalanced Board

Letter to the Editor

The governor's latest appointments to the Board of Game represent a calculated lack of diversity. As an avid big game hunter, I believe the best thing for wildlife populations, and my ability to continue to hunt them, is a diverse Board of Game that can make reasonable decisions and protect the long-term health of the populations of elk, deer, moose and caribou that I hunt. All six appointees represent extreme hunting interests whose only wildlife management method is predator control.

Five out of six are members of the Alaska Outdoor Council, an extreme right-wing hunting lobby! No board should be spawned from the body of one group.

Tony Kirven / Kodiak


Seek Balance with Wildlife

Letter to the Editor
Related Story: Gov. ponders wolf control

Between Stevens and Murkowski, Sunday's paper carried sad news for folks who care about Alaska's wild environment and the myriad creatures living there.

Stevens seems to be exhibiting true ashen colors by attempting to use mercenary camouflage for burying a fiscal-rider worded to take away a citizen's rights to future court appeals.

Apparently, this non-participatory move that hopefully won't fly was motivated by ongoing beefs with a vital and burgeoning environmental community. It can be seen as further manifestation of antiquated 20th century thinking and tactics. However, rather than this old style of thinking, that solely benefits corporate interests, wouldn't it be much better with a new style of thinking totally out front that actually attempts to ask questions like: "What is truly best for, and crucial to, a sustainable and healthy use of our endangered natural systems in Alaska?" Sen. Stevens, please take note that your friendly and local environmentalist can help you with that question, if you ask.

Murkowski, it appears, is sharing some major moose-beef with the wolves and would like to become the alpha-male for predator control, to placate the sportsmen and commercial guides. He wants to keep politics out of the wolf question, but has stacked the game board with sympathetic players. So are we now to see a return of vermin-elimination and the infamous early days of the bounty hunter? A return of the days of airborne wolf control and the likes of machine-gun Kelly? Did he actually work for Ron Somerville, I wonder?

The poor old wolf, sure has taken a long-suffering beating, beginning with ancient mythology and then cattle and sheep herders and now the organized sportsmen of Alaska. The poor fellows don't seen to have the slimmest of chances these next four years. Our tourists can't help much, unless a New York wolf group can out-distance Bush with the media and his personal war.

Game board member McLeod-Everette, a hunting guide, says she is interested in two things, "sustainable yield and predator control."

I'm a hunter with respect for the ecosystem. Where there are too many hunters there is game shortage. Yield and predator control must include the increasing growth of human predator and their subsequent yield.

By reducing our numbers, on a demonstrated food-needs basis, it will allow the wolf to live out the life they are entitled to.

Alan R. Munro / Juneau


AK: Governor's Choices Don't Represent All Alaskans

OPINION / Juneau Empire

Game Board is skewed

Governor's choices don't represent all Alaskans

Gov. Frank Murkowski says he's just restoring "balance" to the Alaska Board of Game with his appointment of six new members. That remark is an early candidate for the most Orwellian political utterance of the year.

What he claims is "balance" is better described as "putting hunters and trappers back in full control of the board."

The previous governor, Tony Knowles, appointed a few Game Board members who realized nonhunting Alaskans have a legitimate voice in game management questions. With his choices, Gov. Murkowski stacked the board with hard-line advocates of predator control.

Gov. Murkowski's appointees will be much more inclined to order the killing of wolves and bears to boost the supply of animals for hunting and trapping.

Predator control can be a legitimate game management tool in cases when a game population has drastically shrunk and may not recover otherwise.

But it is highly controversial, so it should be a policy of last resort.

If their past efforts are any guide, Gov. Murkowski's appointees are more likely to shrug off the controversy and make wide use of predator control.

Gov. Murkowski's appointments also include members who have repeatedly fought a subsistence priority for rural residents. Ron Somerville in particular has been a high-profile critic, repeatedly using rhetoric that shows little sympathy for the role subsistence plays in Alaska Native cultures.

Putting such a strident critic of rural subsistence on the Game Board is a divisive move that understandably stirs concern among many Alaska Natives. It's one more example of the treatment that has led Alaska Natives to embrace the federal takeover of fish and game management on federal lands and waters in Alaska.

Alaskans hold considerably more diverse wildlife management views than do Gov. Murkowski's Game Board choices. A Game Board that is not representative of Alaskans will have a harder time making decisions the public will accept. With the board now strongly tilted to the extreme, disaffected interests are more likely to resort to lawsuits, voter initiatives and even economic boycotts. With more diverse representation, the Game Board could be a forum for reducing conflict over game management, but that's unlikely with this group.

The Republican Legislature repeatedly terminated Democratic Gov. Knowles' Game Board appointments for being insufficiently enthusiastic about hunting and trapping. Gov. Murkowski's appointments won't suffer the same fate, so advocates of rural subsistence and wildlife watching will get short shrift.

With such an unrepresentative board, Alaska can expect more division and conflict over game management.


Manage all Wildlife for Sustainability

Juneau Empire / Published Wednesday, January 22, 2003

In response to Mr. Hendricks' letter (Empire, Jan. 20), "Protect game not predators," why must we protect game to the detriment of predators and protect predators to the detriment of game? I believe that we can protect and manage both for sustainability as mandated in Alaska's Constitution.

It was the Alaska State Board of Game that made decisions to manage wildlife for sustainable yield last year. Locally they voted to protect a small population of wolves on Douglas Island before that population would be opened to hunting and trapping. They also took into account the deer population on Douglas by instituting a formula that would open the hunting and trapping of wolves on Douglas if the deer population dropped below a historical average.

The former Board of Game considered all user groups, both consumptive and non-consumptive during its deliberations.

Our local Fish and Game Advisory Committee voted against protecting wolves for sustainable yield on Douglas Island. In doing so they did not represent all local user groups of that wildlife resource, even though there was strong local support during public testimony.

All individuals appointed to the Alaska Board of Game must acknowledge that over-hunting, deep snow and hard winters, disease, lack of forage, and predators, including black and brown bears, contribute to decreased populations of game. To blame decreasing numbers of game solely on wolves is not only incorrect but it perpetuates the myth of the "Big Bad Wolf," which has nothing to do with scientifically based game management.

I hope the newly appointed Board of Game members will manage wildlife resources for sustainable yield as well as for all Alaskan citizens as mandated in the Alaska Constitution. The former Board of Game achieved this goal. With that kind of wildlife management, tourists will also benefit from seeing all species, whether they be classified as predators or game, that are indigenous to this state.

Wildlife management should not be, nor does it have to be, an all or nothing formula!

Jenny Pursell / Juneau


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