Black and white

Posted: Friday, August 23, 2002

I am writing in support of protecting the recently reported white bear in Juneau. Matt Robus, deputy director of the state Department of Fish and Game's Wildlife Conservation Division, is quoted "We manage wildlife by populations, not by individual animals." This makes perfect sense.

However, aren't white bears a population, albeit a small one?

Glacier bears are well-known. Whether they are really black bears with a couple different genes doesn't matter. They exist and there aren't very many. Usually, in this day and age, the rare animals are protected, some even get the tag "endangered." Some might say, then, "protect the whole lot" of glacier or white bears in Southeast Alaska.

Bear-hunting season runs Sept. 1 to June 30, which gives plenty of time to institute a closure on hunting white bears. Having grown up in SE Alaska, I know how fast the Fish and Game can close down commercial fishing, for example. Since only a very small portion of bears would be protected by not allowing white bears to be killed, hunters would hardly be affected. A Juneau bear hunter would normally not expect many white bears, anyway.

White bears look very different from black bears. It's black and white: Don't shoot the white bear! I mean, in fishing, if king salmon have a closure, a fisherman could still catch one because no one knows what kind of fish might bite, or get caught in a net. However, in this case, all hunters need to do is look.

Frederick O. Olsen Jr.

Brooklyn, N.Y.

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