Wolf Song of Alaska News


An Open Letter to Gov. Parnell, Asking You to Appoint Vic Van Ballenberghe to the BOG

Bill Sherwonit / AK Voices / Anchorage Daily News / April 26, 2010


Gov. Parnell: I urge you to appoint Vic Van Ballenberghe to the Board of Game. I think the legislature's recent rejection of Al Barrette and broad public opposition to him make it clear that a large and growing segment of Alaskans are disturbed and disheartened by the BOG's extremely narrow representation of residents' interests and values. Whatever your own perspectives and beliefs, you must realize that the BOG does not need another trapping and sport/trophy hunting proponent. What this board – in fact any board – truly needs is some diversity of opinion, background, and values. In fact Alaska statutes emphasize (and, I would argue, require) such diversity. I was recently reminded of this when an acquaintance sent me the following:

AS 16.05.221. Boards of Fisheries and Game.
 (b) For purposes of the conservation and development of the game resources of the state, there is created a Board of Game composed of seven members appointed by the governor, subject to confirmation by a majority of the members of the legislature in joint session. The governor SHALL appoint each member on the basis of interest in public affairs, good judgment, knowledge, and ability in the field of action of the board, AND WITH A VIEW TO PROVIDING DIVERSITY OF INTEREST AND POINTS OF VIEW IN THE MEMBERSHIP. The appointed members shall be residents of the state and shall be appointed WITHOUT REGARD TO POLITICAL AFFILIATION or geographical location of residence. [UPPER CASE in this paragraph is my emphasis.]

[A brief aside here: in turning to my American Heritage College Dictionary, I found in a “usage note” that, “In formal style, Americans use SHALL to express an explicit obligation, as in ‘Applicants shall provide a proof of residency,’ a sense also expressed by must or should.” I can’t emphasize this point enough, because recent governors seem to have forgotten their obligation to both Alaska's state statutes and the public.]

I think the highlighted portions of the statute are extremely clear. We desperately need more "diversity of interest and points of view" on the Board of Game. I believe that your appointment of Vic Van Ballenberghe will be a strong move in the right direction, to restore the necessary diversity the BOG has lacked for a long time. I can go on to list the many reasons that Vic is highly qualified to serve on the board, but I know that many others have already provided you with that information. I think what's most important is that Vic Van Ballenberghe has a long history of studying wildlife -- including the interactions of moose with wolves and bears -- and has long participated in wildlife management discussions and debates, while maintaining his credibility within both the scientific and management communities, no small feat. He is widely respected by both his peers and across a broad spectrum of Alaskans who use and value our state's wildlife in various ways. In short, he knows his stuff and is a reasonable person. In the event that you'd wish to learn more, I will include a link to Rudy Wittshirk’s recent "Alaska Voices" commentary, which expresses in more detail why you should appoint Van Ballenberghe to the Board of Game.

Thanks for considering my appeal and those of many others. I hope you'll choose to do what's best for Alaska's wildlife and the broader community of Alaskan residents.
Bill Sherwonit

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