Most Alaskans Don't Hunt and Oppose Bear Baiting, So Dump It


Anchorage Daily News / Letters to the Editor / August 29, 2003

 

Regarding the story "Biologist takes on bait ban" (Aug. 15), concerning a legal challenge to the current bear baiting initiative:

It is not surprising that Wayne Heimer, a former Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist, filed a legal complaint to stop Alaska's voters from deciding whether this despicable, unsportsmanlike practice should continue. After all, Fish and Game supports it and the Board of Game has rejected all proposals to ban bear baiting since it was permitted in 1982.

Mr. Heimer insists that Fish and Game and the Board of Game should make all wildlife management decisions. Ideally, I would agree, but unfortunately in reality the board is anything but a "system which is world-renowned for its democratic nature and good track record," as he asserts. In the approximately 30 years the board has existed, there has been only one confirmed non-hunter/non-trapper on the board, yet 75 percent of Alaskans 16 years old or older do not have hunting or trapping licenses. Clearly, non-consumptive users are essentially disenfranchised from the wildlife regulatory system.

The current bear baiting initiative is a broad-based coalition of both non-hunters and hunters who support fair chase. Only 2 percent of Alaska hunters bait bears, and opinion polls indicate that about 50 percent of hunters oppose baiting.

Regrettably, initiatives sometimes are the only recourse left because of the refusal of Fish and Game and the Board of Game to make necessary reforms urged by a large majority of Alaskans.


-- Edgar P. Bailey, Wildlife Biologist / Homer


 
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