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It was a pleasant surprise to read the Alaska Board of Game deferred the issue of snaring black bears until 2012 because there was so much blowback from the public. That public included me.
There is a circular logic to the snaring policy and it goes like this: People who live in the bush don't have enough moose and caribou to kill and eat because wolves and bears eat moose and caribou. The state has guys who shoot wolves and bears from airplanes and that costs money. The bottom line, literally, is that legalizing and charging money for trapping black bears (for the first time since statehood) will help finance killing more wolves and bears out of airplanes, which will put moose and caribou meat on the table for folks who live off the grid.
The Alaska Department of Fish & Game's Board of Game reclassified black bears as furbearers earlier this year, which paved the way for removing said fur legally. Killing black bears by any means because somebody chooses to live off the grid, or they make their living selling hides, or they guide out of state hunters, is not OK with me.
I was lucky enough to see brown bears up close in Katmai National Park and I'll never forget it. Black bears amble through our yard every summer, and deer harvest my hostas in the spring. I always get a thrill out of seeing a wild animal, no matter how big or small. In Board of Game jargon, I am a "nonconsumptive user" and we are the majority of Alaskans.
Do the values of the Board of Game reflect the majority of Alaskans and the reality of the 21st century? Or are they stuck in the past when the only good wolf was a dead wolf, and a dead bear made a great coat?
In a Nov. 26 article that appeared in the Empire titled "Parnell defends choice of Campbell to head ADF&G," Eddie Grasser, President of the Alaska Chapter of Safari Club International and legislative staffer to Representative John Harris and the Outdoor Heritage Caucus, weighed in on Cora Campbell's appointment. With evidently no appreciation of the irony, Grasser said of the 31-year old-Campbell, "I'm not sure how many of the, especially the older biologists, are going to look at this young girl and say, 'yeah, we're following her.'"
Good luck, Commissioner Campbell, and good luck, Alaska wildlife. You are all going to need it.