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Helping Juneau move on by honoring Romeo

Posted: Sunday, November 07, 2010

There were two stories in Thursday's paper that caught my attention. One was about Sean Parnell winning the gubernatorial vote in Juneau; the other was about Park Myers' hunting violations. It was not until the end of the day that I figured out how to connect these two stories.

Like many Juneau residents, I did not like being reminded about the loss of Romeo. I know it's not 100 percent conclusive that the wolf killed by Myers is Romeo, and he is just being charged with killing a wolf, but many of us sense the real story is about Romeo meeting his demise by an illegal hunt.

In the Empire article, Myers apologizes to the community and expresses a desire to move on. He even asks us to move on. Move on? Just accept a $5,000 fine for taking what I and many others believe to be our long lost ambassador to wildness? Just accept an apology for his despicable acts ? Sorry, I can't get there.

I count myself among the fortunate to have encountered Romeo's gentle nature as he sought to play with my dog. But like all Juneau residents that cherished the photos of Romeo and knew he could be seen at Mendenhall Glacier, Romeo became a part of our community. He reminded us as Alaskans the wolves and bears we pursue in the name of predator control are an integral part of the ecosystem. Romeo reminded us the wildlife that surrounds us deserves respect as intelligent, sentient beings; they are more than commodities for urban trophy hunters.

In the spirit of moving forward, I suggest that an appropriate tribute to Romeo and the ambassador role he played would be to have one seat on the Alaska Board of Game designated for one who appreciates wildlife for viewing and/or for their role in keeping ecosystems in balance. One out of seven seats for non-consumptive users of wildlife is not much to ask for in an effort to fully reflect and balance all uses of wildlife. We could call it the Romeo seat. This is a tribute deserving of Romeo and our memory of him; this is the type of action that would help us move on."

The opportunity to view wildlife is integral to the experience of the million plus visitors Alaska draws each year and is part of why we chose to live in Alaska. Knowing how viewing wildlife enriches our lives as residents would it not be prudent to ensure that wildlife viewing is represented in our decision-making processes?

This is where the second story about Governor Parnell carrying Juneau comes into play. The story correctly notes that Parnell has a markedly different relationship with Juneau than did his predecessor and, that showed when Juneau supported his candidacy. The article also noted that Parnell's victory in Juneau is rare for a Republican. Perhaps in return for this rare show of support Governor Parnell would consider honoring Juneau and the memory of Romeo by informally designating one seat on the Board of Game for someone representing the interests of wildlife viewing.

• Troll is a long-time Alaskan with more than 22 years of experience in fisheries, coastal policy and energy policy. She resides in Douglas.



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