Knowing Joel Bennett is the Alaska representative of Defenders of Wildlife, Wolf Song of Alaska and co-author of an initiative banning aerial wolf control, I was not surprised by the contempt he expressed for the current Board of Game (Feb. 3, 2006).
Mr. Bennett's insinuation that the board acted unethically, perhaps even illegally, raises concern.
Perhaps a little history is in order: On Aug. 23, 2002, Mr. Bennett, an interim board member at the time, called just such an emergency meeting regarding the white bear in unit IC (Juneau area) at the urging of a local photographer.
The stated "emergency" was, I quote, "unexpected and unforeseen circumstances arising from a high level of public interest."
I would think that the wolf/moose issue meets this criteria.
However, if Mr. Bennett is offering a verbatim of law stating, "Emergency regulation can only be used if it is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health safety or general welfare," as the litmus test for calling such a meeting, I'm afraid his "emergency" failed.
Calling the current board's decision an end run void of public and expert testimony borders on libelous. Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) has weighed in on this issue time and again with a proactive position on predator control and a maximum sustained yield per state constitution.
These are experts who live, work and study here in Alaska, and they deal with these issues on a daily basis.
Regarding public testimony, I spoke against protection the white bear. I also submitted over 130 signatures of local residents with the same convictions. ADF&G's Matt Robus also discouraged protection citing population management objectives based on science rather than special interests. Troopers voiced concern about enforcement issues. I heard one public member speak for protection. However, when it went to vote, it passed.
So much for sound science, public testimony and informed others.
I congratulate our current board for standing firm in their commitment to find a balance in predator/prey populations and admire their vision and tenacity in doing a difficult, sometimes thankless, but very necessary, job.
Barry Brokken / Juneau
Note: Contrary to the above reference made my Barry Brokken, Joel Bennett has absolutely no affiliation or relationship with Wolf Song of Alaska.