Legislature rejects game board pick

Posted: Sunday, April 11, 2010

JUNEAU - The Alaska Legislature rejected on Friday the controversial appointment of a Fairbanks man to the state Board of Game.

Eric Engman / Fairbanks Daily News-Miner File
Eric Engman / Fairbanks Daily News-Miner File

Lawmakers, meeting in joint session, voted 31-27 against Al Barrette, who was appointed to the board by Gov. Sean Parnell in February but needed legislative approval.

"While I am disappointed that the Legislature failed to confirm Al Barrette for the Board of Game, I remain committed to selecting nominees who will ensure that there is abundant wildlife for Alaska families who depend upon it," Parnell said in a prepared statement.

Attempts to reach Barrette for comment on Friday were not immediately successful.

His record in the last two months proved to be part of his downfall as lawmakers cited his votes against Alaska Native subsistence and local interests against those of hunters. Barrette is a trapper and tanner.

Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, said the Legislature needed to decide whether Barrette reflected Alaskans' values. He then ran down a litany of votes and actions he said Barrette has taken, including opposing limiting the harvest of beavers in the Yukon Flats region, where he said locals favored limits; voting to authorize the baiting of brown bears, which he said the rest of the board rejected; and advocating use of snowmachines to harvest wolves in a buffer zone near Denali National Park that the board had just done away with. The board rejected that, he said.

"In my opinion, this record does not reflect how I want Alaska's wildlife to be managed," Wielechowski said.

Rep. Carl Gatto, R-Palmer, said lawmakers all have records and votes on certain legislation that people can quibble with.

Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Fairbanks, said he knows Barrette and thinks it's commendable that he's been so open about his hunting, fishing and tannery work.

Juneau's legislative delegation opposed Barrette's appointment.

Barrette also became a lightening rod after he gave a videotaped interview in which he was seen skinning a wolf and espousing the Bible to explain man's dominion over animals.

He later said that was taken out of context and that he believed in science-based management of the state's wildlife.

Critics have said Barrette's decisions consistently favor one group - hunters - regardless of scientific data and public sentiment.

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