Officials with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game are concerned about the sharp decline in the hunting and fishing in the state ("Hunting, fishing in decline despite state's angling rank," Aug. 14). Fortunately, selling violence is not the only way the agency can earn revenue. As interest in hunting and fishing wanes, non-consumptive wildlife watching has become the wildlife-related outdoor pursuit of choice. A U.S. Fish and Wildlife survey found that the number of people who participate in "wildlife viewing" has risen 22 percent in Alaska -- a trend that can be a boon for Fish and Game if it is willing to change with the times and emphasize wildlife viewing over its archaic hunting programs.
The future of wildlife management lies in wildlife viewing programs that are showing explosive growth and the ability to support an economy that far surpasses the current one dependent on weapons and violence. By repealing the tax on weapons and ammunition and replacing it with a similar tax on items such as binoculars, backpacks, and other outdoor-related equipment used by wildlife viewers, we can preserve wildlife and the areas where they live, making the need to depend on violent outdoor sports obsolete.
---- Joe Miele, vice president
Wildlife Watch Inc.
New Paltz, N.Y.