Murkowski's Board of Game Represents Anti-Predator Mind-Set

Letters to the Editor / Anchorage Daily News / May 10, 2004

I agree with Mike Ross ("Leave wildlife management to the experts, away from voters," May 5) that wildlife management should be left to experts; nonetheless, techniques used to manage wildlife must be acceptable to Alaskans. Wildlife management has been politicized shamelessly by our Legislature and governor. Funding to collect crucial data on wildlife has been slashed.

Gov. Frank Murkowski appointed a Board of Game that represents a single anti-predator mind-set and exhibits ignorance of and little concern for population ecology of wildlife. Examples: BOG renewed a wolf control plan in 20A -- an area with reduced predator populations and a moose population damaging its habitat. Hence, Fish and Game had to request implementation of calf hunts. BOG passed a bear management plan that allows the board, rather than experts, to decide when bear predation is significant. When the regional coordinator for Southcentral Fish and Game told BOG that Fish and Game had no data to support the notion of predator control in 16B, BOG ignored him.

Wolf control is scheduled to begin there next winter. Thanks to Gov. Murkowski's BOG, experts are not allowed to manage Alaska's wildlife.

Right-wing hunters are thrilled to have this single-issue BOG. They believe reduced predation will result in a plethora of game. They aren't concerned with the fact that nature wasn't designed to be a game farm; hence, habitats and long-term sustainability may be irreparably damaged. Statewide initiatives may be all that's left for those who care about the health of Alaska's wildlife.

-- Julie Maier, Ph.D.  / UAF Wildlife Biologist /  Fairbanks

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