Protect rare bear

Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2002

The white bear recently seen near Juneau, whether a "spirit" bear, a white black bear, or light-colored glacier bear, is extremely rare and need to be treated as such. You don't have to be a biologist to see that.

Related Story:

Sighting a 'spirit' bear

What an awesome creature to allow to live and perpetuate its genetic code, potentially creating greater diversity in the future bear population around Juneau.

Hunting season is around the corner (Sept. 1). Fish and Game says they don't manage individual animals. That's reasonable. But isn't it equally, if not more, reasonable to be able to address specific biological situations of a unique and fragile sense that are locally relevant? Hesitating to micro-manage, as it's been referred to, is a cop out. Juneau residents respect and highly value our living wildlife, and we expect more from our Department of Fish and Game. Is this how Juneau wants our commonly held wildlife managed?

These bears are not a dime a dozen. Climbing up on any hill around Juneau does not afford such easy glimpses of various colors of bears on any given day as quoted by Fish and Game biologist Neil Barten. I've climbed almost every peak and ridge around Juneau and seen up to nine black bears in a single day but never a glacier bear, much less a white bear. We know how rare glacier bear sightings are and most people treasure the rarity that lends to their mystique.

Wouldn't it be wise to have some form of written tool on the books that Fish and Game and citizens can use to address these unique situations that arise periodically? An emergency order is a tool Fish and Game can use for a "biological crisis." Fish and Game does not consider this a "biological crisis," but it would certainly be a biological tragedy to delete this genetically rare animal from the gene pool of the bear population. And it would be a crime for Juneau to allow one hunter to selfishly take this bear as a trophy, when it has far more living value to far more people and the overall diversity of local wildlife.

All the hunters I know believe it's wrong to allow this bear to be taken as a trophy or for any other reason. People want to see it live, whether they ever see it or not. But there are also some hunters champing at the bit, ready to destroy this awesome creature that may only appear once in a lifetime.

To help protect this bear and make a change for the better regarding our wildlife management, send your comments of support to juneauphotos@gci.net as soon as possible. Check out Pat Costello's Web site juneaubears.com for more info.

Tom Lee

Juneau



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