JUNEAU -- Senate Minority Leader Johnny Ellis is sponsoring
a bill that would change the name of the Board of Game to
the Board of Wildlife and increase its membership from seven
people to nine.
D-Anchorage, says the game board is dominated by hunters and
trappers, and needs more diversification, according to the
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. His bill would give wildlife viewers
and other non-consumptive users a foothold on a board, he
belongs to us all, as a common property resource, just like
the oil, and it's very valuable for tourism and our Alaskan
quality of life and that should be recognized," Ellis
bill has brought praise from The Alaska Wildlife Alliance
and scorn from Sen. Ralph Seekins, R-Fairbanks, and game board
member Pete Buist. Buist argues that the board already considers
don't think there's anybody on there that doesn't support
it," he said.
Ellis said the board needs to be more balanced.
addition to increasing the number of members, Ellis said the
bill would require that the membership of the board reflect
all the different uses of game "in a comprehensive and
fair manner," including "sport and subsistence hunting,
trapping, non-consumptive uses, tourism and scientific study."
bill has been referred to the Senate Resources and Finance
committees. Ellis said he doesn't know whether it will get
argues that Gov. Frank Murkowski's selections of board members
have shifted the panel overwhelmingly toward hunting and trapping
over other uses. Murkowski's six appointments to the seven-member
board include two big-game guides, an air boater, a subsistence
hunter and trapper, a retired state wildlife biologist featured
in state hunting videos and the former director of the state's
said those appointments spurred him to introduce the bill,
as did the state's institution of aerial wolf control and
the recent introduction of a bill by Seekins that would heavily
loosen restrictions on bear hunting in certain areas.
anti-predator kind of bias made me think that's the last straw,"
Joslin, wildlife director for the Wildlife Alliance, argues
that the majority of Alaskans support more diverse voices
on the board.
you want good decisions, you really want a diverse board making
those decisions," Joslin said. "They should be representing
the public, not representing a minority interest that's trying
to get around the public."
Seekins and Buist say there simply isn't a problem. Seekins,
perhaps the foremost proponent of consumptive use in the Legislature,
argues that there is ample land for wildlife viewing in Alaska's
national parks. And he argues that the wording of the state
constitution gives priority to consumptive use.
look at the constitution that says we're supposed to manage
for sustained yield," he said. "Yield to me means
notes that the board has implemented several programs that
favor viewing over other uses, such as setting up bear-viewing
areas near Katmai National Park and nixing proposals to hunt
and trap wolves in another area north of Anchorage.
programs like aerial wolf control in McGrath will eventually
grow wolf populations as game populations rebound, he argued.
doesn't buy such arguments, arguing that the board favors
moose and caribou over other forms of wildlife.
predators increases moose and caribou so there's more wildlife
to look at?" he asked, referring to Seekins' contention.
"That offends me. That's a pretty ridiculous statement
on his part."