Wolf Song of Alaska News

The Worst Board of Game Member Yet

Alaska Wildlife Alliance / May 11, 2007

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In his brief time on Alaska's Board of Game, Bob Bell has already proven himself to be the most anti-conservation Board member in modern history, and has made several statements in clear opposition to subsistence issues. It is critically important to the future of all of Alaska's wildlife that his confirmation by the State legislature on Monday be stopped!

A flyer AWA recently handed out articulates several of the problems connected with Bob Bell's confirmation. The misinformation noted below are from points made by Mr. Bell:

Misinformation from Mr. Bell Truth!

The Alaska Board of Game's decision to open Chugach State Park to wolverine trapping is in response to the accidental "by-catch" of wolverines by trappers targeting other species, notably lynx. Records dating back to 1992 indicate that the Alaska Department of Fish & Game has no record of anyone turning in a wolverine caught in a lynx trap in Chugach State Park. Clearly, the original reason given for the BOG opening the Park to wolverine trapping is false. Conibear traps are commonly used to catch lynx in Chugach State Park. Realistically, few if any Conibear traps currently are being used in Chugach State Park, and they have not been used in the Park for the past 30 years. Trappers indicated that only 1-4 percent of lynx, coyotes and fox are taken with Conibear traps, but 50 percent of wolverines are taken in those traps. Conibear wolverine traps utilize meat as the attractant, representing a serious threat of immediate death to any dogs in the area.

There are more wolverines in the Park now than there were a few years ago. No information has been given to support this hunch. The 1995 wolverine survey was done using state-of-the-art techniques and the area biologist believes the population is no higher now than in 1995.

The areas opened to wolverine trapping are remote and inaccessible with the exception of Bird Creek, and in fact are on the other side of the mountains from Anchorage. Proposed wolverine trapping includes Peters Creek, Thunderbird Creek, Falls Creek, Indian Creek, and upper Ship Creek. They are not on the other side of the mountains! All of these drainages are popular destinations for skiers and hikers with the trailheads easily accessible from Anchorage.

Additional points include the following:

  • According to PhD wildlife biologist Vic Van Ballenberghe, Bob Bell has no history of attendance at Board of Game meetings, and no training or other qualifications necessary to fulfill his Board responsibilities. Note that Vic is a former Board of Game member and active participant in Board of Game meetings for the past 30 years.

    Quotes from Vic:

    "Only a handfull 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."
  • ADF&G area biologist Rick Sinnott has made it clear to the Board of Game that the wolverine population in Chugach State Park could not sustain additional trapping. Mr. Bell has, more than any other BoG member, ignored ADF&G's recommendations and relevant biological information. Mr. Sinnott has conclusively refuted numerous other factual misstatements by Mr. Bell.

The opening of Chugach State Park to wolverine trapping will cause the introduction of Conibear traps which represent a significant threat to the dogs of tens of thousands of Park users. Is this a well-advised trade-off for the possible benefit of fewer than a dozen recreational trappers?

Mr. Bell's legislative confirmation is scheduled to occur late Monday morning, so please contact your State Representatives and State Senators as soon as possible to stop this grave threat to Alaska's wildlife. You can also find the contact information of your State Representatives and Senators by calling the Legislative Information Office at 269-0111 (Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm).

How to Contact Your State Legislators

Please forward this e-mail to those you know who might be interested.

Thank you for caring about Alaska's wildlife,
John Toppenberg
P.S. The Alaska Wildlife Alliance wishes to acknowledge and thank the extraordinarily effective work of Team Wolverine!
Members include:

  • Former Governor Tony Knowles
  • Attorney Tom Mecham
  • Wildlife Biologist Vic Van Ballenberghe
  • Author and Nature Writer Bill Sherwonit
  • Attorney Kneely Taylor
  • NPCA Regional Director Jim Stratton

Alaska Wildlife Alliance
PO Box 202022
Anchorage, AK 99520-2022




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