Manage all wildlife for sustainability

Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2003

In response to Mr. Hendricks' letter (Empire, Jan. 20), "Protect game not predators," why must we protect game to the detriment of predators and protect predators to the detriment of game? I believe that we can protect and manage both for sustainability as mandated in Alaska's Constitution.

It was the Alaska State Board of Game that made decisions to manage wildlife for sustainable yield last year. Locally they voted to protect a small population of wolves on Douglas Island before that population would be opened to hunting and trapping. They also took into account the deer population on Douglas by instituting a formula that would open the hunting and trapping of wolves on Douglas if the deer population dropped below a historical average.

The former Board of Game considered all user groups, both consumptive and nonconsumptive during its deliberations.

Our local Fish and Game Advisory Committee voted against protecting wolves for sustainable yield on Douglas Island. In doing so they did not represent all local user groups of that wildlife resource, even though there was strong local support during public testimony.

All individuals appointed to the Alaska Board of Game must acknowledge that over-hunting, deep snow and hard winters, disease, lack of forage, and predators, including black and brown bears, contribute to decreased populations of game. To blame decreasing numbers of game solely on wolves is not only incorrect but it perpetuates the myth of the "Big Bad Wolf," which has nothing to do with scientifically based game management.

I hope the newly appointed Board of Game members will manage wildlife resources for sustainable yield as well as for all Alaskan citizens as mandated in the Alaska Constitution. The former Board of Game achieved this goal. With that kind of wildlife management, tourists will also benefit from seeing all species, whether they be classified as predators or game, that are indigenous to this state.

Wildlife management should not be, nor does it have to be, an all or nothing formula!

Jenny Pursell


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