Your March 14 editorial mentioned the heated exchange between Alaska Congressman Don Young and the President of the American Hunters and Shooters Association, Ray Schoenke ("Partisan Bickering"). What was lost in your editorial was the subject of the debate.
Congress is currently considering legislation to uniformly end the trade in bear viscera, specifically gallbladders and bile. Demand throughout America and across the globe has led to bears being poached with the gallbladders ripped out and the carcass left to rot.
The Bear Protection Act would close the loophole created by a patchwork of state laws. This uniform standard would deter many bear poachers and bear parts smugglers. But for those who do engage in this indefensible activity, prosecution would be significantly easier.
Importantly, the bill would do nothing to affect a state's right to decide whether resident bears could be hunted, what the hunt season length or bag limits would be, or what methods of hunting could be used. Lawful bear hunters would be unaffected.
The Bear Protection Act is pro-hunting, pro-bear, anti-poaching legislation. Alaska already prohibits commercialization of bear galls; this bill would support the state's efforts to manage its bear population successfully.
The bill is supported by the humane and conservation community, numerous state game departments, law enforcement investigators and hunting organizations. Should it also be supported by Alaska's embattled congressman?
-- Adam M. Roberts
senior vice president, Born Free USA