Alaska's Board of Game (BoG) claims that aerial shooting is essential for restoring predator-prey balances. Opponents are allegedly ignorant of the underlying science and legislation. Firing back, those opponents characterize BoG educational efforts as unadulterated propaganda to maximize hunter harvest, no matter what the cost to other users or how offensive its methods are to the public.
In BoG's view, consumptive users are like horses allowed to eat oats from a trough; everyone else should be happy with any oats that pass through a horse's gut and end up in its dung. That kind of contempt for large segments of the public is bad enough from private organizations. It is utterly inappropriate from a government board.
Pardon me for believing that Alaska's wildlife belongs to all of us, and that when management plans are devised, all user groups should be on a more-or-less equal footing. Every effort should be made to share resources to meet the needs of as many people as possible, rather than helping any special interest group to hog most of the game.
No matter how much you or I enjoy eating moose or caribou, we cannot pay bills with it. But Alaskans in a wide range of jobs do pay bills with ecotourism dollars, the state's second largest industry. It's long past time that designated seats on BoG and local advisory committees were balanced across the whole spectrum of user groups.
Stephen F. Stringham
Bear Viewing Association