FAIRBANKS -- Two new members have been appointed to the state Board of Game, marking the first time since the board was created in 1976 that there has been no Native representation on the panel.
It also marks the first time there has not been a representative on the board from Bush Alaska. The seven-member board establishes hunting and trapping regulations for Alaska.
Gov. Sarah Palin on Wednesday appointed Teresa Sager-Albaugh of Tok and Lew Bradley of Palmer to the board. They replace Ron Somerville of Juneau, who resigned his position earlier this week after six years on the board, and Paul Johnson of Unalakleet, who was not reappointed to the board after serving an interim two-year term.
Johnson had been the lone Native on the board.
The governor also reappointed Ted Spraker of Kenai to a third term on the board.
"It seems like it is more an anti-rural and anti-subsistence board that is going to be sitting there," said Myron Naneng, president of the Association of Village Council Presidents, which represents 56 villages in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.
Frank Bailey, director of state boards and commissions, said the governor considered several names that were forwarded to her by local advisory committees, including Native candidates, before deciding on Bradley and Sager-Albaugh.
"We are confident that this board will govern in the best interest of all Alaskans," said Bailey.
Naneng said Friday that the association will fight the appointments.
"It seems to be going backward," he said. "I think it is a lack of appreciation for rural knowledge."
Both Sager-Albaugh and Bradley support predator control to increase moose and caribou populations, one of the most controversial topics the Game Board has dealt with in recent years. The state has aerial wolf-control programs under way in five parts of rural Alaska to boost the number of moose and caribou for hunters.
Sager-Albaugh, 44, also served as president of the Alaska Outdoor Council, the state's largest and most active sportsmen's group. She also spent 13 years working as a legislative aide.
Though she didn't apply for a spot on the board, Sager-Albaugh said she was honored to get one.
"It's the kind of thing a person doesn't have the opportunity to do often, if at all," she said.
Bradley, 62, is an avid sheep hunter. He is a former gym teacher and coach at Wasilla Middle School, where he worked for 26 years.
Bradley echoed Sager-Albaugh's sentiments about managing Alaska's wildlife resources for abundance.
"I'm a hunter, and I want there to be game for my grandkids and all Alaskans," he said, summing up his game-management philosophy.
At the same time, Bradley said the state has to be careful not to boost populations so high that moose and caribou don't have enough to eat.
John Toppenberg, executive director of the Alaska Wildlife Alliance, said the appointments are more of the same. The alliance has campaigned for a more diverse board not made up solely of hunters.
Toppenberg said he doesn't expect either appointee to stand up for the rights of other wildlife users, such as tourists, wildlife viewers and other nonconsumptive users.
"I see no change coming," he said. "There is no representation at all for nonconsumptive users."