Editorial: Law to protect outdoors

Posted: Thursday, August 18, 2005

This editorial first appeared in the Voice of the Times:

Gov. Frank Murkowski recently signed into law a measure to promote and protect hunting, fishing and trapping as important elements of Alaska's heritage.

That may sound like one of those ho-hum paperwork things like naming an official Pastrami Day in Alaska. But it's actually a pre-emptive measure to head off a dangerous trend growing in the nation.

Trapping has been considered out of the question in much of the country for years and people wearing furs have had paint poured over them. The enmity toward furs has been receding lately, but a sizable portion of the public still considers trapping wild animals to be barbaric.

Hunting and the shooting sports remain popular, especially in rural areas of the United States. But banning guns is still a powerful and dangerous political movement.

And hunters are something of an endangered species in the nation's cities, where liberals live and most of the hunting is done by human predators.

Fishing is still hugely popular; even retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor loves it and doesn't mind being filmed at a fishing hole. (She has fished in Alaska.) But a small group of animal protection folks think fish should be left alone and not bothered by lures and hooks.

Apparently the protectionists think the only fish that people should eat are those that have been raised in pens and killed with boredom by playing endless Barry Manilow recordings.

Alaska's traditional outdoor avocations - especially hunting, the shooting sports and trapping - are very much at risk. Perhaps the danger is not critical right now, but the tide seems to be running in an unfavorable direction.

Such activities are very much important elements of Alaska's heritage. This is an excellent time to enshrine that fact in law and send a message to the rest of the nation.

Let's hope that the law is translated into meaningful activities.

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