As one of your constituents I have contacted you previously about wildlife issues and Board of Game actions.
I strongly urge you to oppose the confirmation of Bob Bell to the Board of Game.
As you likely know, Mr. Bell's actions at the March Board meeting regarding wolverine trapping in Chugach State Park resulted in a storm of controversy. Letters to the editor on this topic exceeded those for many other controversial wildlife issues and virtually all letter writers opposed opening trapping in the park.
The Board followed Mr. Bell's lead on this issue and voted to extend the season into the park despite opposition by Department of Fish and Game staff. The biological information indicated that the wolverine population could not sustain additional harvesting. But Mr. Bell not only ignored the Department's recommendation but the biological information. He also demonstrated his disregard for the vast majority of Anchorage's residents who are interested in seeing wolverines alive in the park, a very highly desired viewing experience here and elsewhere. Only a handful of trappers want to trap wolverines in the park and their actions will deprive several thousand people of the opportunity for viewing one of the rarest animals in the world.
Mr. Bell's response to the criticism was that trapping would only occur in remote areas of the park and the new regulation would only allow trappers to keep animals already caught by accident. Both claims are false. Opening the season in the park will increase the catch as trappers target wolverines in places they did not previously trap.
During most of the Murkowski administration Anchorage did not have a representative on the Game Board. This broke a long-standing tradition of having at least one member (and often two) from Alaska's largest population center. Mr. Bell is now on the Board but he clearly does not represent most of Anchorage's residents. In fact, he is hostile to their wildlife management wishes.
Having served on the Game Board in the past and having taken an active role in Board activities for over 30 years, I do not recall Bob Bell ever attending a Board meeting prior to his appointment. He simply has no record of involvement in Board matters. All of the people I know who participate in Board activities were shocked when he was appointed. Anchorage deserves a Game Board representative with experience in wildlife issues who can represent Anchorage's residents. Mr Bell has neither the experience nor the desire to represent us fairly and I urge you to oppose his confirmation.
Thank you for considering my request. I hope you will agree that someone other than Mr. Bell should represent us.
Vic Van Ballenberghe / Anchorage AK