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You have probably noticed that Alaska's wildlife management policies are in the forefront of the media these days. You have likely noticed the surge of letters to the editor, the increased coverage on the radio, the recent event and rally in Juneau to oppose current wildlife management policies, and the recent predator control online poll at the Alaska Magazine website. Some of you may be wondering what all the fuss is about. Read on.
Extreme predator control is predator control unrelated to a biological emergency that the predators created.
Examples of extreme predator control measures currently being implemented by the state of Alaska include the following:
1. Reducing wolves over vast areas by up to 80 percent
2. Reducing wolves by 100 percent in certain focus areas
3. Allowing pilot/gunner teams to overfly wolves and either shoot them from the air or run them to exhaustion, then land and shoot
4. Killing nursing female wolves through various methods such as aerial shooting and liberalized trapping seasons and limits. The effect is to kill their pups through starvation. These litter deaths are not included in the mortality counts published by the state.
5. Gassing wolf pups in their dens
6. Removing wolf pups from dens and shooting them
7. Opening the wolf hunting season in early- to mid-August when pups are only half grown and still fully dependent on adults for food and protection
8. Extending wolf hunting seasons until May when females are pregnant and near full term
9. Pursuing and shooting wolves, after running them to exhaustion, from snow machines
10. Attempted to enact bounty system of $250 per wolf
11. Issuing permits to over 100 private pilots to pursue and take wolves with airplanes
12. Hunting bears same day airborne
13. Shooting bear cubs
14. Shooting female bears with cubs
15. Trapping (snaring) bears and killing them in their snares. In GMU 16b across the inlet from Anchorage, a snaring season was opened last year with no limits and no restrictions on gender or age. The result was that females with cubs were caught and killed, as were some grizzlies.
16. Baiting bears duringsummer
17. Transporting bear hunters with helicopters
18. Selling bear parts (hides, skulls, claws), which leads to poaching
19. Classifying black bears as furbearers
20. Removing requirements in the regulations that predator control be conducted safely, efficiently, and humanely
21. Permitting hunting of moose and caribou by non-residents in active predator control areas
22. Eliminating the Denali National Park buffer zone that protected the Denali wolves
23. The Board of Game is now seeking to expand its predator control practices onto federal lands, including (but not necessarily limited to) Izembeck National Wildlife Refuge.
Collared wolves in Yukon-Charley were shot and killed due to a "misunderstanding" between state and federal officials.
The Denali buffer zone was eliminated.
Corey Rossi, who has no defendable credentials other than a high school diploma, was appointed our new wildlife director.
At a time when the Alaska tourism industry is suffering, tourists are boycotting Alaska because of our wildlife management policies.
Gov. Sean Parnell appointed Al Barrette to the Board of Game. Barrette's wildlife management views are so extreme that the Alaska State Legislature overturned the appointment.
Our state's wildlife management policies grow more extreme every day. Per the Alaska State Constitution, Alaska's wildlife belongs to each of us, yet the Board of Game does not represent the views of the majority of Alaskans and our views are disregarded by Governor Parnell.
If you are not making your voice heard to oppose the direction our state is taking in wildlife management, now is the time to start. It's an election year. Call. Write. Click. Tell your legislators what you think. Ask gubernatorial candidates about their wildlife management policies. Make your voice heard.
That's what all the fuss is about.
Tina M. Brown is a Juneau resident and is president of the Alaska Wildlife Alliance.