Game Board Appointments
are ...Good Choices

Voice of the Times / Published: January 24, 2003 / Anchorage AK


DESPITE THE prosaic and predictable hand-wringing by the usual suspects, Gov. Frank Murkowski should be commended for his recent appointments to the Alaska Board of Game.

Pete Buist and Sharon McLeod-Everett, of Fairbanks, Ron Somerville of Juneau, Mike Fleagle of McGrath, Ted Spraker of Soldotna and Cliff Judkins of Wasilla are good choices. Former state Rep. Ben Grussendorf of Sitka is the only member left on the seven-member panel who was appointed by former Gov. Tony Knowles.

The new group as a whole brings to the board vast experience and a wealth of knowledge about hunting, trapping and Alaska's wildlife. Because of that, their sitting on the board makes good sense to most of us. After all, they will be the ones setting regulations and bag limits and protecting the state's game stocks for Alaskans.

But their appointments have caused quite a stir among those who routinely find fault with anything and everything Murkowski does. Why this time? Because, they say, the new board lacks "diversity." In the jargon of the day, that means it does not include "non-consumptive users."

But all that is just a smokescreen. What really has the carpers in a dither is the notion that these new appointees just might support predator control to boost moose and caribou numbers in some areas, and that's an idea that is anathema to the Left and their animal protectionist pals.

Let's put this whole thing in perspective. No matter what the board does or does not do, its actions will affect only a tiny portion of Alaska's 90 million acres of state-owned land. And, no matter what the board does or does not do, state-owned land -- amounting to about 24 percent of the state -- is not reserved solely for hunting and trapping. It, too, is available for wildlife viewing.

In addition, there are about 275 million other acres in the state held by the federal government or private owners, allowing all the "non-consumptive" use one could want.

If the Game Board, after considering scientific evidence and listening to the public and its advisory boards across the state, opts for predator control under the state's intensive management statute, so be it. Hunters, trappers and non-consumptive users all will benefit from having more game available. And in the end, more game means more food for more predators, a fact so conveniently ignored by folks who use the predator-control issue to make a buck.

Murkowski did the right thing in appointing a strong board to make the tough game management decisions that will be necessary in the future.

It is refreshing to see a governor do what he believes is right and who is more interested in results than appearances -- even knowing that his enemies will howl like wolves.

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