As usual, the debate surrounding predator management in Alaska mixes a little fact with plenty of rhetoric and misinformation. This is especially true for those supporting passage of Proposition No. 2 on the primary ballot.
Contrary to their ads, current predator control programs are not authorized under hunting regulations. Shooting of bears has never been allowed from aircraft for hunting or in predator control programs. Similarly, non-resident hunting is not allowed in the areas authorized for intensive predator management.
Despite the fact that many Alaskans (villagers and urban residents alike) are extremely dependent on moose and caribou to meet their daily protein needs, the sponsors of this initiative clearly don't care.
Alaska's State Constitution requires Alaska to manage its resources, including wildlife, for the "maximum benefit of Alaskans." God knows how promoting decades of severely depressed moose populations due to excessive predation provides even minimal benefits to Alaskans. This is especially true for communities like Tetlin, Sleetmute and Skwentna that enjoy median household incomes of $12,250, $15,000 and $16,500 respectively.
The sponsors refuse to acknowledge the fact that the existing predator management programs are working. They are dishonestly presenting an unworkable alternative knowing that the real effect is the elimination of all existing predator management programs. This would be a tragedy. Hopefully when Alaskans go to the polls they will put Alaskans first and vote "no" on Ballot Measure 2.
-- Ron Sommerville
former ADF&G deputy commissioner and director of wildlife conservation