Alaskans are faced with a growing biological crisis of which few seem aware. Global warming is already evident in reduced pack ice, spruce die-offs throughout the state and thawing permafrost in the Interior. Polar bear, fur seal, ringed seal and some sea otter, orca and beluga populations are declining. Changes in vegetation are already affecting moose and caribou populations.
Photographs taken on the North Slope 40 years ago compared with the same areas today show significant alterations in vegetation that decrease forage available to caribou. As we see our forest composition altered due to decreased water, insect infestations, etc., we also see moose forage disappearing to the detriment of moose as is happening on the Kenai Peninsula.
Against this backdrop we are bogged down with a Board of Game whose management decisions should be based on biological science, but instead reflect the short-term, myopic interests of the Alaska Outdoor Council. All of the BOG are believed to be AOC members; and our governor admits to membership in the AOC. As the BOG pushes for artificially high and unsustainable populations of moose and caribou, they do so without regard to these ongoing environmental changes.
Instead of relying on sound biological data they take the easy avenue of destroying the predator base, a population necessary to the good health of the ungulate population. Even when advised against actions (i.e. the wolverine trapping in Chugach State Park) by Fish and Game, they act with their personal interests foremost.
We have a governor who campaigned as someone who will listen to the people. In implementing a bounty program, considering the use of helicopters for aerial gunning and re-appointing Bob Bell to the BOG, Gov. Palin may instead out-Murkowski Murkowski. Her association with the AOC seems to set her wildlife priorities regardless of what a majority of Alaskans want.
Alaska's wildlife belongs to all Alaskans equally, not just the AOC trophy hunters. If you want your voice heard on wildlife issues via changes to the BOG, please contact Governor Palin at http://gov.state.ak.us/govmailSP.php.
John Toppenberg / Soldotna