My Turn: Qualified to serve

Board of Game member makes his case for confirmation

Posted: Wednesday, May 02, 2007

I read Bill Sherwonit's My Turn in Thursday's Juneau Empire, regarding my service on the Alaska Board of Game. Once again, he attacks me with misinformation and outright falsehoods.

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His facts are not all wrong. He is right that my wife thinks I am a wonderful husband, my grandchildren love me (as do my kids), my clients think I am a talented engineer, and my business has been successful for 33 years. After that, Sherwonit is pretty much wrong.

He states my resume "offers no shred of evidence" that I have the "experience or knowledge that would best serve Alaska's wildlife." I think 37 years of traveling throughout the state hunting and fishing under Alaska's wildlife laws give me a good perspective. Also, serving on the Anchorage Assembly gives me good experience on the functioning of a board. Most reasonable people, a group Sherwonit apparently has failed to join, would consider that as good experience.

As far as "having an open mind and heart (and) a willingness to learn," I have that ability. I would suggest Sherwonit does not! If he had been at the meeting, researched the facts or even read my article in the Voice of the Times with an open mind and heart, he would have written a very different column.

In regard to predator control, the biologists who are well-educated and experienced in wildlife management say it is a tool we need to use as a last resort. They tell us in several areas of the state we are at that point, and the board is charged by the Legislature, and by law, to use "intensive management" in this case. Is Sherwonit asking the Legislature to not confirm my appointment for doing what it asked the board to do?

Sherwonit says "most Anchorage residents know I led the charge to allow wolverine trapping in Chugach State Park." Again, this is just not true. I was one vote of five in favor of the issue. In fact, there was very little debate on the subject. I would like to point out that my concern was we were trapping lynx in these very remote parts of the park, about 20 percent of the park's total area. Lynx are very viewable animals, whereas wolverines are seldom viewed. My exact quote was, "I guess what I'm having trouble with is we consider wolverine a viewing animal that nobody sees, but not lynx, that everybody sees." My point was we should look at the lynx trapping, and that is exactly what we did.

The park takes up about half of unit 14C. The area outside the park has a lot of trapping of lynx and wolverine. The season for both species was Nov. 10 to Feb. 28. We shortened the season to six weeks instead of 11. The new season runs Dec. 15 to Jan. 31. If Sherwonit thinks this will result in more animals being trapped, he is "either ignorant or in denial."

The trade-off was to open wolverine trapping in the same remote 20 percent of the park to coincide with the lynx season, where trappers, at most, catch one or two wolverines a year in the lynx sets. Currently, trappers turn the animals over to the state. We thought it was reasonable to let them keep what they caught.

Finally, there are 1,600 moose in the Anchorage bowl. I would suspect 400 to 500 of them are bulls. If we take four or five bulls in the hillside hunt, I doubt it will reduce the photographer's chances of taking a picture of a bull moose.

As an engineer, I have to make sure I have my facts right before I come to a conclusion. Apparently, this is not so in Sherwonit's case. I would suggest a little more research before he writes his next column.

• Bob Bell is a Board of Game member and engineer in Anchorage.

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