If Lynn Levengood had his way, hunters would be able
to bait grizzly bears, sell bear parts and shoot grown bear
cubs that are still with a sow.
are just a few of the proposals that Levengood, a Fairbanks
attorney and avid hunter, has submitted to the Alaska Board
previous boards have been unwilling to take necessary management
changes," said Levengood, explaining the purpose behind
the 24 proposals he submitted to the game board.
of the actions the (Alaska Department of Fish and Game) has
taken to reduce predation has had any effect," he said.
"We have to allow consumptive users to reduce predators
to help the prey populations."
Alaska already embroiled in a national controversy over its
wolf control exploits, the state game board begins a two-week
marathon meeting in Fairbanks today that could stir up another
hornets' nest. The board will consider nearly 300 proposals
to change, create or eliminate hunting and trapping regulations
in the Interior and many of them are aimed at killing bears
to boost moose and caribou herds.
year there's some spin on predator control that comes up,
but the interest seems to be higher this year, particularly
with bears," said David James, regional supervisor for
the Division of Wildlife Conservation at the Alaska Department
of Fish and Game in Fairbanks.
of the bear proposals the game board will consider include
legalizing the baiting of grizzly bears, trapping black bears,
selling bear parts and allowing hunters to shoot cubs with
sows in some places, practices that are considered extreme
even in some hard-core hunting camps.
have some grave concerns where the board will take some of
these proposals," said Karen Deatherage, the Alaska representative
for Defenders of Wildlife, a national organization that opposes
of Deatherage's worry stems from the board's track record
over the past year. The game board recently approved aerial
wolf hunts near McGrath and in the Nelchina Basin as part
of a state-sponsored predator control plan. In the past month,
private pilots have killed more than 60 wolves.
is worried the board will now turn its aim on bears by approving
radical hunting practices as baiting of brown bears and shooting
clearly want to increase the harvest of brown bears,"
board member Pete Buist said the bear proposals are merely
a sign of the times.
think people are coming to grips with the fact some of the
predation problems we're having are because of bears, not
wolves," said Buist, one of two Fairbanks representatives
on the seven-member game board.
in recent years have shown that bears--both black and grizzly--
kill as many, if not more, moose and caribou calves than wolves.
At the recommendation of state wildlife managers, the game
board has already relaxed bear hunting regulations around
much of the state by lengthening seasons, dropping tag fees
and increasing bag limits, but those changes haven't produced
more bear hunters.
extending seasons and increasing bag limits hasn't worked,"
said Buist. "The average guy doesn't want to go out and
shoot a grizzly bear every year. It's expensive to get it
tanned and you're just going to hang it on the wall. How many
grizzly hides do you need to hang on the wall?"
the animal-rights group Friends of Animals from Darien, Conn.
has already organized a national tourism boycott against Alaska
to protest the state's aerial wolf hunts, allowing such things
as the baiting of grizzly bears or commercial sale of bear
hides would no doubt raise hackles.
controversial as wolf management is, when you get into bears,
especially grizzly bears, it gets even more so," said
Matt Robus, director of the state Division of Wildlife Conservation.
thought of stirring up more controversy doesn't concern Buist.
think there's little we can do to raise a bigger stink then
there already is," he said, referring to the tourism
boycott. "We should be worried less about how much environmentalists
are going to be upset and look at the biology and do what's
meeting at the Wedgewood Resort begins daily at 8:30 a.m.
and is open to the public. Public testimony on proposals will
begin on Friday and the deadline to sign up to testify is
noon on Saturday.
expecting two full days of public testimony," said Justin
Crawford with Fish and Game.
outdoors editor Tim Mowry can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
or at 459-7587