I have been following the exchange of letters concerning the African hunt recently concluded by Bill Adair and Dr. David Miller ("Skinning a cat the hard way," June 17). The story has elicited some strong emotions, and it is time for people to step back and take a deep breath. I certainly respect the opinions of those who oppose hunting, but I ask each of them to think for a moment about the state they live in.
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The guiding of big game hunters in Alaska is a huge business. Search "Alaska Game Guides" on the Internet and you'll be amazed at how many hits you get on hunting lodges around the state. It is a part of our way of life, and many people choose to live here because of the hunting and fishing opportunities this state has to offer. Of all the 50 states, we are one of those most identified with big game hunting, and we actively promote that activity. Some years ago, I read that the average brown bear has an economic value to the state of $10,000, the average price a nonresident paid for a guided brown bear hunt.
There is that adage about people who live in glass houses. If it is morally wrong to kill a leopard in Zimbabwe, what is the moral justification for allowing the killing of a brown bear in Alaska? The end result in either case is the same: An animal is dead. Adair and Miller were not engaged in an illegal activity. The country of Zimbabwe did not censure or cite them for hunting that leopard. If you are contemplating boycotting Bullwinkle's Pizza or Miller's medical services, I would suggest, instead, you boycott the state of Alaska, your chosen home.
You have the choice not to live in a place that not only allows, but fosters the guided hunting of large game animals. Most of us feel it is part of our heritage as long as those game populations are managed in a biologically responsible manner. You also have the choice of not spending your tourist dollars in Zimbabwe. It seems pointless to boycott two individuals for participating in a legal activity that we take for granted on a day-to-day basis. We're placing far more moral emphasis on one leopard than we do on the hundreds of brown bears killed in Alaska each year.
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