Speaking in defense of Joel Bennett

Letter to the editor

Posted: Friday, March 10, 2006

Ever since Alaskans For Wildlife stepped forward to sponsor a ballot measure limiting the state's aircraft predator control program, our organization and our initiative have been subject to a concerted assault of misinformation and emotion-laden rhetoric by special interest groups such as the Alaska Outdoor Council and their allies. As a longtime friend of Joel Bennett, and a co-sponsor of the aerial wolf hunting initiative, I wish to respond to Barry Brokken's letter of Feb. 24, as the most recent example of this ongoing pattern.

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In his opening line, Brokken states, "knowing Joel Bennett is the Alaska Representative of Defenders of Wildlife, Wolf-song of Alaska and co-author of an initiative banning aerial wolf control, I was not surprised by the contempt he expressed for the current Board of Game." An impressive salvo, but there's a problem. Every one of those statements is false.

Joel Bennett, who served 13 years as a member of the Board of Game for four different governors, is neither the Alaska Representative for Defenders of Wildlife nor Wolf-song of Alaska - as anyone can discover easily by a phone call or two and 10 minutes of Internet sleuthing.

Nor does our initiative "ban" aerial wolf control. In fact, the initiative allows for aerial wolf control to take place but stipulates that such control be driven by specific scientific study and take place in event of a legitimate biological emergency.

As for Mr. Brokken's last assertion, that Joel's letter expresses "contempt for the current Board of Game." I invite you to read that letter for yourself (Juneau Empire, Feb. 3) and decide who is engaging in rhetoric that "borders on libelous" - Mr. Brokken or Mr. Bennett?

In the end, I'm not surprised by the desperate tactics deployed by our opponents. The people of Alaska have twice soundly voted against unnecessary aerial wolf control, and current polls show that they will do so again. Alaskans want wildlife management driven by sound science with an eye to long-range stability of game numbers and ecosystems - not by short-term gains motivated by political pressure from big-game sport hunting special interest groups such as the Alaska Outdoor Council. Their demands and unrealistic expectations, not good science, drive the mandate of intensive management.

The wildlife of Alaska belongs to all of us, not to a select and well-connected few, who wrap themselves falsely in the flags of science and the Alaskan way.

Nick Jans


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