Wolf Song of Alaska News

In the Long Run, Bear Hunters Need Support from Alaska's Non-Hunters

Letters / Anchorage daily News / May 3, 2006

McNeil River bears appeared on the front page again ("Refuge ruckus," April 23). The Daily News prints these photos because Alaskans are amazed by the bears. Clearly we should protect this world's largest concentration of brown bears.

But I believe the state Board of Game continues to press for more hunting and less viewing in the area surrounding McNeil River. This is especially tragic as the number of bears using the sanctuary plummets and elsewhere in Alaska bears are targeted as predators. There is no shortage of bears to kill; everyone who wants to kill a brown bear has plenty of opportunity and encouragement.

Board members say bear viewing and bear hunting can coexist on the same piece of ground. While this does occur in some areas of the state, both viewing and hunting are degraded when they overlap.

The board is threatening hunting rights by continuing to threaten these bears. The 15 percent of Alaskans who hunt need the support of the 80 percent who don't hunt. The board will push some non-hunters into the anti-hunting ranks through their unreasonable actions.

Hunters need non-hunters' support, and the way to ensure this is by being reasonable. Each new article about the board's threats to McNeil River signals that hunters have little interest in what wildlife viewers want. I challenge hunters who support the McNeil River bears to speak up and protect this special area.

---- Larry Aumiller / Anchorage

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