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Letters to the Editor / Fairbanks Daily News Miner / December 3, 2004

To the Editor:

Now that the bear-baiting initiative frenzy has quieted down after the election, I'd like to share some other perspectives on this issue.

Among my wife's Koyukon people, the bear ranks near the top of the list of respected animals. It possesses a very strong spiritual presence and, even today, is treated with great custom and respect. Bears are highly prized for their food value above all else--particularly in the fall/early winter when they are rich in fat content.

The skin of a bear is generally left in the woods due to its spiritual presence. What a cultural contrast to the prevailing Western world-view where the skin is the most-valued part of the hunting experience. This weekend I overheard a person practically drooling with anticipation as he stated his burning desire to "git me a grizzly rug while I'm here." The attainment of a trophy wall rug is the primary mind-set of the general public as represented by the majority of Alaskans.

As modern-day people, we are losing our sense of respect for our animal brothers. We seem to be more intent on "managing" big-game animals like moose and caribou at the expense of predators like bears and wolves. Just because we have placed ourselves at the top of the food chain does not exempt us from the responsibility to recognize and respect the role of all living creatures. If we intend to survive on this planet, perhaps we might be wise to re-examine our prevailing views toward other animals that share our world?

Bob Maguire / Fairbanks

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