To the editor:
Jade Murphy (July 11, 2007, "Bear baiting") should grab a copy of Webster's and look up speculation, misinformation, and conjecture. That is all she did with her diatribe in a vain attempt to blame bear baiting with defense of life and property (DLP) bear deaths. Her theory is an opinion not based on fact.
The regulations show Unit 1C (Juneau/Douglas area) and Unit 14C (Anchorage area) are closed to bear baiting, yet like 20B (Fairbanks), bears are killed in those areas in DLP. Brown bear populations especially appear to be growing throughout the state, possibly in part due to past hunting restrictions and limited hunting activity. Additionally, bear behavior changes when they are not being hunted.
More likely the problem is loss of habitat (something she alluded to in her ramblings) coupled with potentially increased bear populations, limited hunting of brown bears and increased human/bear contact. As residential areas grow, bear habitat shrinks. It appears Jade chose to live in bear habitat without regard to the potential natural conflicts and consequences.
Alaska Department of Fish and Game records (1986-2005) indicate a large number of black bears have been taken from Unit 20B. Baiting accounts for the majority of the bears taken. That we know of, there have been no black bear DLP deaths this year in 20B. It is reasonable to extrapolate that bear baiting has in fact removed bears that could have presented a problem to homeowners on the outskirts of Fairbanks.
We have baited bears for nearly 20 years in the same area we recreate in as well as hunt moose in the fall. We've never had a problem with bears, nor heard of anybody having a problem with bears in that area.
Hunting regulations require that bait stations be a safe distance from roads and dwellings. If you know of bear bait stations that are in "close proximity" to residential areas, or you know of neighbors leaving garbage out it is your responsibility to report them equally to the troopers. If you do not, you are once again part of the problem.
Greg and Eric Hoffman