Administrative Procedures Act give rights to citizens

Posted: Thursday, September 09, 2010

I read your Friday story ("Kookesh subsistence fishing violation charges dismissed") on the dismissal of fishing violation charges against Alaska State Senator Albert Kookesh with interest.

What caught my eye was your sub-head: Administrative Procedures Act sinks state's case. That act gives rights to Alaska citizens. It requires state agencies to give notice to the public of proposed actions and to allow us to comment on proposed actions. That didn't happen in the Kookesh case. The state properly lost in court.

It is time for citizens to speak out about the Department of Fish & Game, and especially the Board of Game, in pressing through initiatives without meeting required citizen notice and comment opportunities. Those requirements were not met by the Department of Fish and Game and the Board of Game in implementing their plan to allow the selling of bear meat. Broadly worded vague notice doesn't cut it. Never before in our history has the selling of bear meat been allowed in Alaska. You and I did not have adequate notice or opportunity to comment.

In an orientation meeting with Board of Game support staff, I asked about the selling of bear meat and was assured the selling of bear meat was not included in a recently adopted regulation. They would get back to us. Well, they never did get back to us, because the selling of bear meat was already allowed in print in their 2010-2011 Alaska Hunting Regulations handbook. On page 5, there is a line stating: "Sale of black bear meat will be allowed for bears taken under trapping once seasons have been established."

Nothing less than the demise of Alaska's wildlife is at stake. The selling of bear meat is but another example of a wildlife-extraction mentality being practiced by the state of Alaska. Before you vote this fall, ask those running for their views on wildlife management, their views on fighting the delisting of polar bears, Beluga whales, and now Stellar sea lions, their views on predator control including the aerial shooting of wolves and gassing of pups. Don't sit idly by and watch leaders ignore citizen rights to notice. Become informed and vote accordingly.

Patricia O'Brien


Board Member of the Alaska Wildlife Alliance's Southeast Chapter

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