Wolf Song of Alaska News

Shooting Bears from Salmon Boats is Disgraceful - and Not Hunting

Letters / Anchorage Daily News / October 19, 2006

Like most Alaskans, I don't hunt. In Alaska, hunting is part of our collective culture and I understand its importance. That said, can someone please explain how shooting bears from boats can possibly be considered sport?

On Sept. 1 black bear season opened in Prince William Sound. In a remote bay, we watched as a group of hunters shot one bear after another feeding at an active salmon stream. The hunters didn't stalk their prey. They just sat bobbing in their boat a few yards off the salmon-filled stream as bears ambled down fatally unaware of the difference a day makes. The hunters didn't take these bears for meat. Bears that feed on fish don't taste good to most of us, and state law doesn't require eating the meat. The headless skinless carcasses are still rotting on the shores of Schoppe Bay.

One of the great pleasures for many of us who boat in Prince William Sound is the opportunity to watch these great creatures in the wild. Since the opening of the tunnel to Whittier, hunting pressure has increased significantly, and while I can't say for certain that their numbers have dropped, the frequency of seeing them on beaches has plummeted. Shooting bears from boats during salmon runs is not hunting. It's time for a change.

---- Terry Schoenthal / Anchorage

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