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McNeil River Bear Hunt Testimony Ongoing

Joy Mapaye / KTUU-TV / March 4, 2007

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - The Alaska Board of Game says it is simply swamped with letters, e-mails and testimony opposing a proposed hunt near the McNeil River State Game Sanctuary. This is day three of public testimony and board members say they still have a long way to go before they're done. So far the board says it has received approximately 28,000 e-mails, numerous letters and phone calls.

In 2005 the Board of Game voted to allow brown bear hunting in the Kamishak special use area, not far from the McNeil River State Game Sanctuary. If approved, the first hunt is scheduled for this fall.

"I really think the evidence is overwhelming that bears that have become tolerant to people lose much of their natural wariness and it doesn't matter if it's in McNeil or areas outside of McNeil," said Bill Sherwonit, nature writer.

"I think the misperception is that the fate of these bears is in jeopardy by what happens to them once they leave those areas. I don't think that's necessarily the case. It's been misportrayed," said Joe Lutsch, president, Professional Hunters Association.

"I would say we're certainly taking a beating on this one. But on the other side of the coin, it's always really good to see the public come out and voice their opinion. This is a very public process, probably the best one in the world when it comes to managing wildlife," said Ted Spraker, vice chairman, Alaska Board of Game.

One hundred fifty people are scheduled to testify. Spraker estimates one-third of those are opposed to opening the area to hunters.

Spraker says the earliest the board would make it's decision would be Wednesday. He says there are other issues the board must tackle first in Kodiak and Cordova. In addition to this issue, the board also hopes to hear more from those interested in tier two subsistence permits for caribou in unit 13 near Glennallen.

 

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