Hunters Wrongly Blame Predators for Errors in Game Management

Letters from the People / Anchorage Daily News / February 25, 2003


Under Gov. Murkowski's leadership, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game wants to start predator control throughout Alaska. Predators, weather and hunters cause wildlife populations to fluctuate, and hunters cry because low populations make hunting harder.

As a member of the Unit 19D East (McGrath) Adaptive Management Team, I reviewed the subsistence surveys done by Fish and Game. They asked people about their history of use, and now Fish and Game bases "need" on those statements. Historical use and convenience is not "need." They have no system to determine true dependence on wildlife as food.

The team initially stated there was a biological problem, but the fall 2001 moose surveys showed the problem to be people management. The 2001 surveys showed the moose population was near the desired numbers, but there were not enough bulls due to over-hunting.

The problem is, hunters are unhappy because they cannot harvest what they used to, when the state poisoned or shot predators as vermin. Hunters do not want more permit systems or regulations or to solve their own problem. They want the state of Alaska to solve the "problem" they created by taking too many bulls.

Write and tell the board, Fish and Game and Murkowski to determine what a true need is and to include sound social and economic science when making plans to slaughter predators. Anything less is inviting economic disaster.

-- Leo Keeler / Anchorage

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