The Feb. 12 Daily News article "McNeil bear hunt opposition grows" paraphrased Board of Game Chair Ron Somerville as saying, "The state constitution requires that game be managed for the maximum benefit of Alaskans. If the McNeil River sanctuary bears were allowed to undermine that, it would be inexcusable."
Why does he feel if you only watch wildlife and do not hunt, that you are not an Alaskan?
The current Board of Game is made up of only hunters; no one is there to speak for those who do not hunt. I believe the entire board shares Somerville's view of wildlife management. That is why the system must be changed.
Hunters say that license fees pay for wildlife management, suggesting they own all wildlife. I believe license fees pay for the privilege, not right, for one person to harvest a public resource and make it unusable by all other Alaskans. They also say the Pittman-Robertson federal tax funds support hunters. But much of that tax is related to trap, skeet and other target shooting. Many of those shooters also hunt, but hunting is not the reason for all their purchases.
Ethical hunters and non-hunters should join to protect McNeil River viewing and change the system. Write the Board of Game in support of proposals 38-48 and closing previously closed hunting areas.
---- Leo Keeler / Former president, Friends of McNeil River / Anchorage