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Hunting McNeil Area Bears Knowing Where They'll Be is Just an Ambush

Letters / Anchorage Daily News / March 2, 2007

The scheduled hunt in October adjacent to the McNeil River Sanctuary is wrong. The McNeil River Sanctuary is the most unique bear habitat in the world. Each year visitors from around the world, including famous wildlife photographers and biologists, come to Alaska to experience these amazing animals.

These bears have been studied for over 30 years. The individual bears' location, habits and trails are well documented and recorded by the state. The Board of Game chose the location and timing of the hunt with the knowledge of exactly where each of these bears will be. Their strategy is alarmingly purposeful.

I'm not against hunting, but this is an ambush. Guides can charge thousands of dollars to each trophy hunter with a guaranteed kill, knowing exactly when and where these bears will be. Scheduling the hunt for October, after these bears have been within human contact for five months, enables the hunter to get closer than at any other time. This is no longer sport.

This crosses the line between ethical hunting practices and greed and slaughter, worse than bear baiting. There are many other areas to hunt bears without circling around the sanctuary.

I hope the Board of Game skips the October hunt now before the McNeil River and the state of Alaska lose the entire reason we developed this bear sanctuary.

---- Richard Schanche / Anchorage

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