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|Location:||Alaska, United States|
Alaskans have just 48 more hours to submit their comments on proposals to be considered by the Alaska Board of Game. These seek increased control of wolves and bears and would reinstate the aerial gunning of wolves.
The Board will meet from March 10th-20th in Fairbanks. It is extremely important that they receive your informed comments on their proposals by this Friday.
Please take a few moments to read the information below on some of the worst of the Board's proposals, then submit your comments...
Emergency Proposals Reinstating the Aerial Gunning Control Programs (Supplementary Proposals #9, #10, #11, #12 and #13):
The Board intends to officially re-adopt the “emergency measures” regarding the aerial wolf control programs they passed at an emergency meeting held in January.
- These emergency measures were passed to circumvent the recent court ruling that found the Board’s aerial gunning programs were illegal and to reinitiate the aerial control programs as soon as possible.
- Public comments were not accepted at this meeting. The Board continues to ignore the fact that airborne wolf-killing by private pilots has twice been voted down by Alaskans.
- The Board’s aerial gunning plans call for the largest wolf-control program since statehood, (covering 50,000 square miles and targeting an 80% reduction in wolves) but are not based on sound science. Anecdotal evidence from hunters regarding the number of wolves present rather than scientific surveys mean that wolf populations could be completely eliminated in some areas.
Proposals #11, #15, #21, #22 and #23 classify brown and black bears as furbearers, allowing them to be trapped and their fur sold in interior Game Management Units (GMUs).
- Bears have not been classified as furbearers and subject to trapping since Alaska became a state. No other western state permits this practice.
- Catching and holding large powerful and potentially dangerous animals in snares and leg hold traps presents a situation where wounding loss and injury can occur.
- Wounded bears that escape from traps are potential threats to public safety and property.
- The sale of bear hides in some GMUs but not others invites enforcement problems because bears will be poached or taken in areas where sale is prohibited and presented for sealing in GMUs that allow this: such “bootlegging” of bears has occurred in the past when GMUs have inconsistent regulations and there is a commercial incentive for violation.
- Commercialization of bear hides establishes a precedent which may lead to pressure for the sale of other lucrative parts like gall bladders. Such trade in parts fosters illegal activity and creates a opening for elements that engage in the worldwide trade in endangered species.
Proposal #23 also allows for the same day airborne hunting of bears and the harvest of female and young bears in Unit 20E:
- Current bear harvest regulations in 20E are already very liberal. Additional hunting pressure risks over harvest and jeopardizes sustained yield. The slow reproductive rate of bears means that management mistakes may not be obvious until it is too late to correct them without damage to the population.
- Same day airborne hunting of bears has historically not been permitted in the state because of past abuses and enforcement problems associated with highly mobile aircraft in remote areas. The practice also invites violation of 5AAC 92.080 (5), which prohibits harassment, herding, chasing and molesting wildlife with motorized vehicles.
- Before any further liberalization of bear hunting regulations in this Unit are considered, translocation of bears should be evaluated, using the McGrath Adaptive Management Plan guidelines.
Proposal #27 amends the wolf control plan for Unit 19D to include the control of black and brown bears.
- There is no biological information provided to justify lethal control of bears in this area. Populations are considered to be low or moderate, with no estimates of bear population density cited.
- Translocation of black bears from this area has proved to be an effective measure to reduce predation on moose and can be continued for grizzly bears as a preferable control measure if needed.
Proposals #116, #127, #128 allow for the use of snow machines to pursue wolves and bears in GMU 20E and wolves in GMUs 21, 24 and 25C.
- Snow machine hunting invites driving, herding and harassing other wildlife in violation of state and federal laws.
- Chasing animals with mechanized vehicles is counter to fair chase hunting practices and contributes to the perception that Alaska sanctions inappropriate methods and means to take game.
- The past history of abuse involving shooting from snow machines in the pursuit of wolves and other furbearers makes enforceability a major concern.
- Bears are especially vulnerable after emerging from dens; pursuit at this time with snow machines is unprecedented and unethical.
With only a few hours left to speak up for Alaska’s wolves and bears, I strongly urge you to make your voice heard.
Director of Field Conservation
Defenders of Wildlife