Regarding bear hunting near McNeil River, claiming that bears become wily creatures when they step out of the sanctuary is ridiculous. Humans who haven't studied maps wouldn't know when they leave the sanctuary; a bear won't be savvy about this either. Those bears are used to people. Period. They don't change their attitude from one valley to the next.
The article "McNeil bear hunt opposition grows" (Feb. 12) reports that opening this area to hunting has come under pressure from hunters. It's not. It's pressure from guides. This isn't a benefit to Alaskans; it's a benefit to high rollers from states where there aren't any bears left to shoot. This isn't about satisfying subsistence needs; it's about satisfying ego, and hunting closer to the sanctuary is easier.
I've heard the argument that it's a tradition, shooting bears. Well, I read about the traditional ways bears were hunted, and it turns out that traditionally it was considered cowardly to hunt bears with a gun or even a bow and arrow. Traditionally, and out of respect, bears were hunted with an ax, a club or a spear; this was considered brave. It's a way for a man to really test his mettle. A guide can take his client out for a hike, and say, "There's your bear, here's your club. Go get him!"Truly, that would be something for a hunter to brag about.
---- Gartly Curtis / Homer