Wolf Song of Alaska News

Letter Writers Leap All Over Animal Issues

From the Letters Desk / Anchorage Daily News / April 22, 2007

We have to thank the Alaska Board of Game for keeping the letters page stocked with material for the past month or so. It was sort of a slow time for letters, except when it came to talking about animals.

We've had letters about the predator-control program that allows aerial wolf hunting. People wrote about the impending brown bear hunt outside the McNeil River State Game Sanctuary, which the board cancelled due to public pressure. Many people have written about the board's decision to allow trapping of wolverines in Chugach State Park. A smattering of folks commented on the rule change for permits to hunt Nelchina caribou.

To be fair, people aren't only writing about wolves and bears and such. We've also had letters about the Iditarod and humane treatment of sled dogs (something writers discuss each year, but particularly so after Ramy Brooks was disqualified for mistreating his dogs this year). We received letters about halibut quotas, protecting fish habitat from industrial development, even one letter about the Mat-Su custody dispute for Carl the Cat. And yes, we have three letters about Maggie the elephant to consider.

I looked through the past 30 days of letters' pages. Only four pages had not a single letter about animals. How on earth did that happen, you wonder? Well, election letters took over the page a couple of days. That count also includes the day when we printed a package of letters all about global warming. Can you believe not one of those letters mentioned saving polar bears?

Speaking of bears, local bruins are emerging from their dens and, in one recent case, into the arms of hunters. After legally shooting a grizzly bear outside a den, a hunter was mauled by a second bear hidden in the den. People have their own opinions about hunting at dens, and that's OK, but we won't print all of the mean-spirited writing that the mauled hunter deserved worse injures than he suffered. Hunting in Alaska is a hot issue, but let's keep it civil.

If somebody looks at our letters 100 years from now, they will read our legacy of emotional, passionate debate over fish and wildlife management. That and Permanent Fund dividends.

-- Mary Hattie / Anchorage Daily News

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