Wolf Song of Alaska News

Measure 2 Will Not Stop Predator Control

Letters / Juneau Empire / August 20, 2008

Letter to the editor

Pat Valkenburg's recent opinion piece against Ballot Measure 2 (My Turn, Aug. 15) presents several inaccuracies.

Valkenburg's most serious misrepresentation is that Measure 2 will stop the state's predator control program. The fact is, Measure 2 will reinstate the very functional, science-driven model that the Department of Fish and Game employed in the 1970s and 1980s: Department personnel conducting predator control using helicopters to respond to specific biological emergencies.

One of the clear success stories of this period was unit 20A, the Tanana flats, where a wolf-moose imbalance was corrected. The plan worked then, and it will work now. Cost? Well, if the state can afford $400,000 to spread its Alaska Outdoor Council-driven doctrine of predator control, it can dang well afford to do some proper science and charter a few choppers now and then.

Valkenburg asserts that "Alaska's system of wildlife management and resource allocation is a model for the rest of the nation." That might come as news to the National Academy of Sciences, The American Society of Mammalogists, and the National Research Council, all of whom critiqued the science driving the state's program over the past dozen years and found it deficient. As an ex-biologist with Fish and Game, I'm sure Valkenburg is well aware of these judgments, which were well-documented and a matter of public record.

Valkenburg also calls the current predator control program a "compromise between various Alaska interest groups." What "compromise" is he referring to? What I recall is a two-time unilateral decision to override the clearly expressed wishes of the largest Alaska interest group of all: the voters of this state.

Valkenburg chooses to invoke the duty of the Legislature while ignoring their primary duty: to uphold the will of the people. How is it that the Alaska Outdoor Council has come to dominate the Board of Game and wildlife management policy? They clearly don't represent the majority of Alaskans, who have twice voted against broad-based aerial predator control, and are poised to do so again. The AOC therefore qualifies as a special interest that is imposing its agenda on the majority.

Speaking of special interests, aside from his AOC position, Valkenburg has quite a vested interest in predator control. According to receipts obtained through a public information request to Fish and Game, Valkenburg made $22,897 as a private contractor supporting the department's controversial predator control action in unit 9 this past May and June. No wonder he's such a passionate advocate for his cause.

Nick Jans

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