Out of sight does not always have to mean out of mind. So it goes with the state's Board of Game.
Earlier this week, the board finished up its Southeast Region regulatory meeting. As is its habit, the board shuffles its meeting locations to enhance accessibility to all Alaskans. This time, it met in Wrangell.
Combined with the agenda, which was filled with mostly Southeast-related issues, the meeting held little logistical or practical interest to Valley residents - at least on the surface. But two things, in particular, deserve a wider audience.
First, the board, which is vice-chaired by Wasilla resident Cliff Judkins, unanimously approved a proposal allowing Alaska military personnel deployed to a combat zone the flexibility to transfer their Tier II/subsistence permits to alternate hunters. In these uncertain times, when more and more Alaskans are being called to active duty and some have their tours extended, this is a no-brainer.
It is an act of respect to the individual service person as well as to his or her family, which may rely on that permit to put food on the table. The proposal also includes a provision for the service person to be reissued a permit upon their return to Alaska.
There are never enough ways to say thank you to anyone who answers the call to serve the country. So the board's decision may seem like a token gesture or inconsequential compensation for life-threatening duty in a combat zone. But it is, nonetheless, a worthy action that we congratulate the board for completing.
In other business, the board rejected a proposal to allow bear hunting in an area of Admiralty Island currently reserved for bear-viewing. The unanimous vote should be encouraging to critics of the seven-member, all-hunter board who accuse it of favoring hunters - despite the minority status of hunters in the general population and the board's charge to "conserve and develop" the state's game resources for the benefit of all.
The hunting of animals who are acclimated to human presence was a bad idea from its inception. It is both immoral and immensely unsporting. That it was proposed in a popular tourist destination elevates it from a regional issue to a statewide concern.
Fittingly, it was opposed by the public, the Juneau-Douglas Fish and Game Advisory Committee and a number of area hunting guides.
Again, the board deserves the thanks of all Alaskans for recognizing the importance of the issue and acting accordingly. We applaud the board for its responsiveness and sense of responsibility in fulfilling its