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Don't Forget Alaska's Other Bears

Letters / Anchorage Press / March 6, 2007

 

Most of the attention at this month's Board of Game meeting (March 2-12) will be on McNeil River's famed gathering of brown bears, and rightly so. But residents interested in wildlife - and especially bears - should know that numerous proposals to the BOG seek increased opportunities to kill bears throughout much of Alaska.

While I wholeheartedly support the harvesting of wild animals for food when done ethically and respectfully, I have big problems with trophy hunting, which to me seems more about human ego than anything else. It's especially appalling to me when such "sport" hunting is permitted in parks. And proposals before the Board of Game seek new opportunities to do just that in two of Alaska's finest state parks. One proposal seeks to establish a year-round brown bear hunt in Denali State Park, despite little knowledge about the park's bear population and the fact that such a hunt could lead to conflicts with the growing number of visitors who explore the park's backcountry from spring through fall. Plus there's an increased safety issue if hunts are allowed during the park's prime visitation seasons.

Closer to home, there's a proposal to allow brown bear hunting in Chugach State Park. The argument seems to be that the local bear population can "support" a hunt. I can think of many reasons to oppose the hunt, including conflicts with the many people - most of them residents - who frequent Chugach's wilderness and, as at Denali, public safety. But chief among my own arguments against such a hunt is the belief - shared by many other Alaskans - that some places should be kept off limits to purely trophy hunting. Anchorage's "backyard wilderness" is one of those. As a frequent, year-round visitor to Chugach State Park and former member of Chugach's Citizens' Advisory Board, I strongly oppose any hunting of brown bears in the park. And I encourage others with similar beliefs to protest any such hunt in Chugach State Park.

Bill Sherwonit / Anchorage

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