The Board of Game is meeting March 10-20 in Fairbanks to consider adopting some controversial proposals that allow for increased aerial wolf killings (targeting an 80 percent reduction in wolves), classifying black and brown bears as fur-bearers to allow them to be trapped and their fur sold, allowing the harvesting of both female and young bears and allowing the use of airplanes and snow machines to pursue the wolves and bears.
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I am very concerned about these proposals, because there is such controversy regarding the biological soundness of the data used to support the need for the Predator Control Program in the first place. With such at stake, I would hope that the board would listen to the wide range of scientific comment submitted against the use of the Predator Control Program and not turn a deaf ear, as it appears the board has done so.
Allowing for trapping of bears is a very problematic idea. Trapping large powerful bears in snares/traps is very dangerous to the public. The potential of a wounded bear escaping is very high. There is no other state which allows this practice, and the commercialization of bear hides and parts gives incentive for illegal trade activities. Please let's not permit the taking of sows and cubs. There is a very slow reproductive rate with bears, and the damage will not be seen until it is most likely too late. Allowing the use of snow machines and motorized vehicles to hunt will lead to harassment. There is a history of abuse from hunters shooting from motorized vehicles. Pursing bears from snow machines after emerging from dens is nothing but unethical. Bears are most vulnerable at this time. Using motorized vehicles is not considered a fair chase by anyone's standard. Please, let's not contribute any more to the perceptions that Alaska's hunters use inappropriate methods to hunt.
I don't believe in the Intensive Management Statute. I feel that the Alaskans who point to this statue and say, "See here, it's our right," to have enough game to hunt and to push the Board of Game into this extreme predator control role, are wrong. The statute, in my view, does not justify the means suggested in these proposals to kill the wolves or the bears. These animals deserve our respectful treatment.
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