New bear baiting law seems odd

Posted: Sunday, June 07, 2009

I am puzzled by the "new Fish and Game rules" that are the apparent basis for the prosecution of Charlie Vandergraw. I agree that feeding wild animals is very bad practice because it is potentially dangerous both for humans and for animals, but isn't there a proportionality issue here?

In Alaska, bear baiting (feeding) is a common and legal method of bear hunting. According to the ADF&G Web site, baiting of black bears is "allowed in most, but not all, game management units in Alaska, and is regulated under the state's game laws." Their Web site provides an online bear-baiting clinic that includes a "test" that qualifies anyone 16 or older to register a bait station.

The site also states, "Laws that prohibit the feeding of bears are designed for public safety in areas of human habitation and relate to managing waste disposal and human food" - obviously sensible goals.

However, doesn't the logic that bears must not be fed except as a method of killing them seem a bit strange? Since baiting is widely permitted, why is the penalty for feeding bears for other reasons so very harsh when it occurs in areas removed from human habitation? And doesn't it seem odd that penalties for careless handling of garbage within urban areas - where the danger of human-bear interaction is obviously greater - are so much milder?

Vivian Hegg

Juneau



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