In Friday's Empire, and in support of opening Swan Cove to brown bear hunting, Mike Millar is quoted saying bears are "a common property resource under our constitution. ... They belong to you and me." He is absolutely right, but I would like to ask him how I get my share once he has killed his share and hung it on his wall. Maybe he will invite me in for a look.
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The fallacy in Mr. Millar's argument reflects the common belief that "consumptive use" is of a higher order than nonconsumptive use. The dictionary includes "to use up" and "to destroy completely" as two definitions of the word "consume." Is it really better for one person to destroy a common resource than for it to be available to us all, on an on-going basis?
Brown bears are the most awesome land mammals in North America - a mystical force as well as a powerful reality. Yet there is only one protected spot in Southeast Alaska that is both large enough so bears can roam and be available for people to watch, photograph and learn about them. That is the Pack Creek brown bear sanctuary.
Almost all of Admiralty, Baranof and Chichagof islands, as well as sections of the mainland, are already open for brown bear hunting. I hope the Board of Game will recognize that sacrificing the integrity of Pack Creek and Swan Cove for a tiny increase in consumptive use would be very bad policy.
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