Over the objection of the National Park Service, the Alaska Board of Game has taken aim at brown bears and wolves in Alaska's national preserves. The board wants to unnaturally decrease predation and increase moose and caribou for human consumption.
For example, game management units at Wrangell-St. Elias and Katmai National Preserves have seen bag limits increase from five wolves per regulatory year in 1993 to 10 wolves per year in 2003. At Denali National Preserve, the bag limits for bears have increased from one bear every four years in 1993 to two bears per year in 2005.
This intensive management is permitted by state law but is not allowed on National Park Service-managed lands.
Intensive management clearly threatens the natural balance of our parklands. It also threatens to hurt our local economies, many of which rely on tourism revenue from visitors to Alaska that come to view our wildlife such as brown bears and wolves.
According to National Park Service research, out-of-town visitors spent more than $49 million on recreation, lodging and other services at Denali National Park and Preserve alone in 2007. If tourists find they can no longer see the bears and wolves that Alaska is so famous for, park visitation may decline and this powerful driver for our local economies will suffer.
The nonprofit National Parks Conservation Association is asking the Alaska Board of Game to roll back hunting regulations on national preserve lands to pre-intensive management levels in order to preserve healthy populations of bears and wolves, and ensure the viability of our tourism-driven local economies.
-- Jim Stratton
National Parks Conservation Association