The Alaska Board of Game must be replaced. Denial by the board of the petition for reinstatement of the Denali wolf buffer following its removal of that buffer in 2010, and earlier repeated denials to even consider reinstatement, is hard-core warfare on wildlife and the Alaska public.
Alaska has a long history of blatant non-representation of its larger public and of our spectacular wildlife legacy by decades of boards made up entirely of a small sector of our public. Hunting and trapping interests have dominated past and present boards appointed by past governors and approved by legislatures. However, upwards of 80 percent or more of Alaska's public are non-consumptive wildlife "users." Unrepresented for so long, many are likely even unaware of any such board.
Our Alaska Constitution states wildlife is intended for "common use" by all Alaskans. Clearly all Alaskans are stakeholders in how Alaska wildlife is managed. Beneficial uses besides those of the hunter and trapper that should be available to all Alaskans include wildlife viewing, photography, wilderness adventuring, scientific research and of course tourism, which is a large presence in our Alaska economy. In a changing world growing enormous urban populations, Alaska's wildlife and wilderness profile, if really cared for wisely, will drive a fierce demand for access to its wild country and wildlife and surely become the major presence in Alaska's economic future.
In contrast only a small public is usually accommodated by this board, this exclusive little fiefdom known for arrogance and dismissive of requests for non-consumptive scenarios. Board refusal to hear years of past buffer reinstatement requests and the recently denied emergency petition to reinstate the Denali wolf buffer is a reminder of the difficulty of having to go before what has become a rogue agency to make pressing non-hunting, non-trapping requests.
And who represents the interests of wildlife in all this? Were I a wildlife creature I would consider the Board of Game wallowing in its extremist ethical and moral squalor to be a veritable wildlife terrorist cell, a predator, a virtual death panel ordering wholesale slaughter of bears and wolves chasing them by aircraft to exhaustion, killing entire families. An ongoing predator massacre is what Alaska has to show to the world! Effort to ensure that the nation and the world sees this board-inflicted ongoing carnage is absolutely guaranteed. For Alaska and for business, it will be an earned but unnecessary black eye and it won't be pretty.
Gov. Bll Walker has indicated in recent actions that he wishes to see boards and commissions as representative bodies; boy does he ever have one that is so clearly out of whack! This Alaska Board of Game is a virtual proxy hunting and trapping club. Now, governor, is your chance. Board members would do the larger Alaska stakeholding public its only true public service: walk out, never ever come back. Alaska's wildlife legacy is ours not yours -- all us Alaskans, not just the 15 percent and not this little club of regulatory extremists. All Alaskans must be welcomed as the stakeholders that they truly are.
James Kowalsky is a 45-year Fairbanks resident, wildlife advocate and activist.
The views expressed here are the writer's own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary(at)alaskadispatch.com.