Wolf Song of Alaska News

State’s Snaring and Killing of Grizzlies is an “Experiment”…to See How Much Wildlife Carnage Alaskans Will Bear

Alaska Voices / Anchorage Daily News / June 9, 2011


Rudy Wittshirk

The Alaska Board of Game has approved an "experimental" brown bear snaring program in Unit 16B---similar to the black bear baiting/snaring programs. These bear killing “programs” are no more “experimental” (in the “scientific” sense) than the wolf killings---just more hideous and even less justified.

The State was able to sneak the black bear killing program past the public with a few vague references to “subsistence users” going without moose because of “too many” black bears. So now it’s time to wipe out some grizzly bears---under the guise of an “experiment.”


As you may recall, these “intensive” predator killing programs began when “wolf control” was foisted off on the public under the pretense of “science” and “subsistence.” But fear always trumps logic. It was the death of one, supremely careless young teacher at Chignik Lake that has sealed the fate of Alaska’s wolves---and, by extension, Alaska‘s bears as well.

In March 2010 Candice Berner went jogging while wearing headphones and got herself killed and partially eaten by wolves. Locals had failed to warn her that bait was being used to lure wolves closer to town so they could be more easily killed. The result was the first Human death by wolves in over fifty years. These “Bush” Alaskans may lack the plumbing and manicured lawns of Eagle River---but the traps, guns and aircraft of the money economy have made them just as soft, ignorant, fearful and dependent upon government.

Along the road network in the Eagle River area, residents were also reported to be deliberately feeding wolves---and, of course, leaving garbage lying around. When wolves began to get “bold,” the Joint Base Elemendorf-Richardson pack was unceremoniously killed off---to save jittery Eagle River residents their peace of mind. The State learned its lesson---they could kill all the wolves they wanted if Alaskans were sufficiently terrified.


The State doesn‘t even bother pretending to be “scientific” anymore---emotion rules all wildlife management. And that most emotional of all the old standbys, “subsistence,” is still being cited by the State to justify killing wild predators---though functional “subsistence” is just about dead and gone.

Even for those few people who actually live right on the land, hunting costs big money these days and requires “job subsistence.” Motor vehicles, equipment and services are the real “subsistence” economy. Living off the land is no longer possible in Alaska. Actual “subsistence” has been destroyed by the policies of the State of Alaska---and yet is still being used as the all-terrain excuse for catering to the commercial-recreational extractors of wildlife. It is the supreme irony that Alaska’s wildlife is being wiped out by an industrial agriculture-based society---but in the name of primal “subsistence.”


Cleansing Alaska’s game management system of science has facilitated the irrational and illogical practices we see today. With the appointment of an unqualified Cora Campbell as Fish and Game Commissioner---to supervise an untrained former pest exterminator, Corey Rossi---Governor Sean Parnell officially rejected the role of science in wildlife management. But without science the State’s predator control programs are “experimental” only in the sense of doing something to see what happens. There is no accountability to facts, evidence or reason.


The State’s “bear control” programs are even more brutal than the wolf killings. According to High Country News on bear-snaring (“Palin, politics, and Alaska predator control,” Tracy Ross 2-21) “…as soon a bear is caught by the wire, it jerks frantically trying to free itself…the program's supporters say the snares are not painful as long as the bears don't struggle for too long…[but] both black bears and grizzlies have been known to maim themselves while gripped by the wire. Black bears reportedly grunt and moan in a way that sounds like a person crying. At least three grizzlies that were accidentally snared had to be euthanized [shot].

“…if a sow with cubs gets caught in a snare, the cubs often go ballistic. When that happens… it's often safest to shoot the cubs first and then the mother.“

Grizzlies will now be specifically targeted in Unit 16B “in preparation for extending [the program] to other areas in Alaska…” With no moose shortage in 16B, this grisly grizzly killing program is even more senseless than the wolf killing programs.


“Intensive predator control” was not the first State-sponsored mass killing of wildlife. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game also presided over a previous period of “intensive” slaughter---it was called a “harvest.” A surge of urban, motorized hunters---flush with pipeline money---were flattered as “subsistence“ users and turned loose on the moose.

After the easily accessible moose and caribou herds were depleted, “intensive predator control” was phased in to distract the public from what had just happened. “Intensive predator control” serves to blame Nature for the inability of the State to protect our wildlife against recreational and commercial predations.

The question of whether killing bears will bring back the game herds has been rendered scientifically impossible to determine because there are no uniform, “baseline” counts of wildlife for comparison. Without science, “intensive predator control“ is an “experiment” only in the sense of finding out just how much gruesome killing the Alaska public will tolerate from it‘s wildlife “stewards.”

The irony is that Alaska has become an “intensive” predator slaughterhouse because it was already an “intensive” wildlife slaughterhouse.

- Rudy Wittshirk

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