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Help the McNeil Bear Sanctuary off linmits to hunting

Moose and Wolves

Letters / Fairbanks Daily News-Miner / April 10, 2009

To the editor.

I'd like to respond to a letter by Kathy Irwin in the April 5 paper, about wolves and moose population.

First, let me state that I'm not a biologist. I leave that to our very well-trained and conscientious state working biologists. This is my opinion only. However, I have a 58-year Alaska residency, was born into the hunting business and guided 11 seasons for my father. He was a 38-year master guide. I also flew the state biologists on game surveys in the 1980s and learned lots.

Second, I'm not putting Irwin down in any way. An opinion different than mine is OK. I love Alaska and America for that right.

My opinion: Wolves hunt 24/7 and are very good at what they do. Hunters hunt a few weeks of the year - or should, anyway - and are not always successful. Wolves can decimate a moose population in an area - I've seen that. Hunting could do so, but seldom does.

I take exception to the term "market" hunter. That took place during a very brief period early in the century when hunters provided meat for resale in mining camps. That may still go on some, but don't get caught!

Don't be down on Ms. McLeod-Everette for being a professional guide; it fed my family and gave me a rich heritage for many years. My father was a very ethical, fair-chase guide, and the "rich Outside" hunters gave us a living for years out of the same guide area without a decrease in trophy count.

Some people contend that resident hunters killing the younger bulls are worse for the population than trophy hunters getting the "biggest and the best." But residents have a right to legal animals. My father started in the late 1940s, and other early pioneers said the game population fluctuated then, too, before heavy hunting pressure.

Irwin is certainly right that moose move to different areas for better feed and that the wolf ain't the only devil in the congregation, but they do their part.

I just think with good management technique we can have moose, wolves and tourists aplenty. I doubt I've swayed anybody's opinion with this letter, but I sure feel better!

Colin Conkle, North Pole AK

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