Recently, President Obama's U.S. Interior Secretary sent his main man in Alaska, Pat Pourchot, around the state to gather ideas from Native groups about improving the federal subsistence program. The administration wanted to know what the federal government could do specifically to better serve the rural residents and subsistence users.
Ironically, what the 10 regional advisory councils came up with as their No. 1 suggestion caught Obama's man a bit off guard. They wanted the government to launch a predator control program to kill some of the wolves and bears that eat the food these folks rely on - essentially similar to the state's predator management program under the direction of Corey Rossi.
Rossi's appointment by Commissioner Denby Lloyd as the wildlife abundance czar within the Department of Fish and Game, coupled with the subsequent support that Gov. Sean Parnell has shown to stay the course on predator management, is proof that we don't need a new federal program to build and manage our moose and caribou populations.
Rather than drum up some costly reinvention of the predator management wheel, we need to expand what we know is working, and working well. Just ask the Tyonek Native community in unit 16B near Anchorage, where a moose population on the brink of disaster has done a complete 180 degree turnaround in the past 2 years due to the efforts of an intentionally targeted intensive management program with the assistance of Sportsmen for Wildlife.
The council was spot on in suggesting a strategic and necessary predator control on federal lands within Alaska because rural residents so desperately need meat to feed their families.
With the price of hamburger at eight dollars a pound in many rural communities that have seen predators devastate their primary food source (moose and caribou), why would we ever consider reinventing the wheel and letting the federal government behind it?
The 10 regional advisory committees got it half right. We do indeed need effective predator management programs in many more areas around the state. We just don't need the federal government running them.