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Debate requires common vocabulary, courtesy

Voices of the Peninsula

Posted: February 1, 2012 - 9:50am

I would like to respond to Mr. John Toppenberg's opinion piece from the Clarion's Jan. 23 edition. As an active member of one of the Peninsula's Fish and Game advisory committees, I have been very involved with the recent issues surrounding predator control. I recognize that this is a very controversial issue, with opposing opinions about as far apart on a spectrum as they can be. As an elected member of my community, I make it a point to listen to public comment and try to understand all perspectives, educate myself about the issues, and whenever possible, disseminate information and try to educate others about what I've learned. I consider this a position of service to my community, as it is completely voluntary, and I enjoy learning about the process as well as the issues.

The basic foundation of our process for addressing fish and game issues at the state and local levels is grounded in an ethic of mutual respect. Regardless of where someone stands on an issue, individuals have a right to their opinion and to express it. What is sometimes overlooked however, are the simple rules of etiquette, decorum, and/or common courtesy.

I was rather disappointed in a couple of Mr. Toppenberg's comments that were in contrast to these basic tenets. On two occasions, he called Mr. Spraker's (and by connection Mrs. Spraker's) integrity into question. Likewise, he criticized the Board of Game for having "zero diversity" and using an "anti-science" approach.

To engage in this type of name calling criticism and character assassination is extremely inappropriate and unprofessional, and certainly not something one would expect from the director of a state-wide organization that claims to represent others to "promote the integrity, beauty, and stability of Alaska's ecosystems" (as taken from his website).

Since we are on the topic, with regard to the often cited purpose of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge-KNWR (as referenced by both Mrs. Spraker and Mr. Toppenberg), (i) to conserve fish and wildlife populations and habitats in their natural diversity ..., I would like to draw attention to the term "conserve." Conservation, by definition, involves supervision and management of natural resources in order to preserve them. Management, on the other hand, involves handling or directing the affairs of a business, institution, etc. The two terms (conservation and management) are often used incorrectly, and although they go hand-in-hand when it comes to wildlife issues, they are not interchangeable. The bottom line is that conservation often requires management. It is the state's responsibility to manage the wildlife resources according to our state constitution (for maximum sustained yield, and for the maximum benefit of the people), and in accordance with basic conservation principles. The KNWR has the directive to ensure that those conservation principles are adhered to on their lands.

What many fail to realize, is that the recent predator control proposals were created to manage our declining moose population (it's not about wolves). Reducing numbers of wolves is just part of that management plan. The KNWR and other opposing groups can and should take a conservation stance to ensure that none of the naturally occurring species are wiped out. However, the state has already addressed that issue. With regard to wolves, Proposals 35 and 36 list specific trigger points, related to minimum wolf populations, that would halt the project immediately. That is a conservation measure taken for the wolves.

I can live with the fact that the KNWR and other groups want to make sure that we don't remove too many wolves, as they are indeed one of our most incredible wildlife resources, but they also need to cooperate with the state's management plan by allowing access so that it can be carried out. The whole "natural diversity" argument for the refuge involves substituting the word "conserve" with "manage," which is both incorrect and inappropriate. They, and others, can be conservation minded without doing any management (or preventing it).

In the end, many of us will have to agree to disagree, and that's OK. I respect everyone's opinion and their right to express it. I would just ask that in discussing our opposing views, that we use a common vocabulary that is clearly defined, and continue to utilize a public process that involves individuals, agencies, and groups addressing each other in a polite and respectful manner.

Bob Ermold is a Sterling resident and member of the Kenai/Soldotna Fish and Game Advisory Committee.

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Tim Sterling
Tim Sterling 02/01/12 - 11:29 am
Predator Control, Etc. SFW's Dream of Alaska's Wild Game Farm

Hey Bob Ermold--

Let's get one thing straight. YOU WEREN'T ELECTED to the bogus ADF&G advisory committee. I have seen how those elections work. Ballot Box Stuffing courtesy of "Sportsmen" for Fish and Wildlife--Sportsmen is in quotes because members are neither men nor sporting. They are cowards who like to shoot fish in a barrel. Or bait bears and snare them. Or gas wolf pups. Or shoot bears and wolves from airplanes and helicopters all in the name of "predator control" or "intensive management".

You want debate to be CIVIL? Really? Then start making civil recommendations instead of barbaric recommendations to the BOG!

Or take an ETHICAL stand and DEMAND THE REMOVAL of CLIFF JUDKINS IMMEDIATELY from the Board of Game. Cliffy Boy is the Chairman and was caught red-handed with trophy horns from a Seward Peninsula SUBSISTENCE HUNT along with Bob Bell and Corey Rossi. The horns were supposed to be destroyed.

Why don't you spend your time and effort with worthwhile causes rather than responding to John Toppenberg--a man with unquestionable ethics who is acting on behalf of MOST ALASKANS. I say that because MOST ALASKANS oppose the BOG policies which are certainly NOT rooted in science.

One only need to examine what happened in McGrath several years ago. The declining moose problem IS due to predators--the TWO LEGGED PREDATOR!

So Bob Ermold--get off your Ivory-Tower, ballot-box stuffed podium, sit down and shut up. Stop referring to yourself as "an elected member of the community." Let's just agree that that is just NOT TRUE!

Allen 02/01/12 - 02:41 pm
Criticizing the Board of Game

Criticizing the Board of Game for having "zero diversity" and using an "anti-science" approach is not "name calling" or "character assassination" as claimed by Bob Ermold.

The Board of Game does not contain any members who represent non-consumptive users of Alaska wildlife. There is no scientific data that supports the claim that aerial wolf kills on the Kenai Peninsula will enhance the moose population. These are facts. The idea that killing wolves will lead to increased moose numbers is merely speculation. Wildlife "management" should be evidence-based, not based on speculation.

Bob Ermold should read the article in last week's Peninsula Clarion about the numbers of moose being killed by cars. That article contains facts, not just speculation. This article proves that if anything, the Board of Game should be putting its resources into reducing the number of vehicle-moose collisions.

Jedediah Smith
Jedediah Smith 02/01/12 - 04:11 pm
Good Job Mr. Ermold!

Tim Sterling and Allen- prove Mr. Ermold's point perfectly! Civil debate is one of many reasons why people such as you are the minority in Alaska. We are a consumptive use state and appointing preservationist wildlife watchers to the Board of Game is against the state constitution and legislative mandates. There is plenty of scientific information to support predator control, the problem is, greenies refuse to add the numbers and acknowledge the science.

AKNATUREGUY 02/01/12 - 04:20 pm
Bob Ermold is wrong

Allen is correct. Criticizing the Spraker's and the Board of Game for having "zero diversity" and using an "anti-science" approach is not "name calling" or "character assassination"; it is simply the facts!

Modern day conservation and wildlife management 101 go hand in hand. Wildlife needs to be managed and conserved on a natural diversity ecosystem basis; not on the basis of killing off one species (wolves) to promote the population increase of another (moose) just for the benefit of a few big game hunters.

Who on the Board of Game is representing all of the other citizens of Alaska who may wish to be a non-consumptive user of wildlife? No one.

Allen is also correct regarding the facts of hundreds of moose killed by vehicles on the Kenai Peninsula. Bob also needs to read that article. If the BOG really wants to increase the moose population, why haven't they worked with DOT and the Parnell administration to address the highway collisons with moose. "They" should be fencing the roads and building wildlife overpasses/underpasses. Not to mention all of the moose that are killed by trains.

Bob Ermold also states in reference to the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge; "but they also need to cooperate with the state's management plan by allowing access so that it can be carried out". I believe the federal Kenai Refuge operates under modern day science based wildlife ecosystem management and conservation. The wildlife existing within the refuge boundaries belongs to all Americans, both Alaskan residents and non-residents. Why would we want the corrurpt Parnell/Cora Campbell/Coreyt Rossi administration mis-managing the wildlife resources that belong to all Americans. It is bad enough that they are mis-managing our big game wildlife species on State controlled land.

jlmh 02/01/12 - 10:58 pm
Stay on topic

It is also poor etiquette to correct the etiquette of others. Mr. Ermold spent four paragraphs criticizing Mr. Toppenberg's decorum before rebutting the letter. Was this necessary? His decorum will speak for itself. So let your rebuttal speak for itself. There is no need to publicly lecture your opponent on manners. In fact this only detracts from one's own credibility, making the lecturer look petty. Besides, what Mr. Ermold perceives as offensive does not necessarily appear rude to neutral readers. Why not just acknowledge Mr. Toppenberg's good points (if any), clarify misunderstandings, and politely make your own case?

spwright 02/02/12 - 12:03 am
Freedom of Speech 2/1/12

Wed 2/1/12
Perhaps those amoung Us should make the time to read Our Constitution.

There is absolute nothing in there that states a American Citizen must be polite or politically correct or follow etiquette when voicing their own opinion.
It's called Democracy & Democracy can get Heated & Ugly
& Passionate.

"I may disagree with What You Say but I will Defend to the Death Your Right to Say It"
The American Veteran defends Your Right to Freedom of Speech.

Retiree SPW "Airborne"

Tim Sterling
Tim Sterling 02/02/12 - 12:36 pm
Jebediah Smith

Jebediah---I am a hunter. Just not a trophy hunter. You know--fair chase? A challenge? There's a reason they call it hunting and not killing or fishing and not catching.

Your ilk want to line up game and just mow them down like in a wild game farm.

Your kind are destroying Alaska's game populations.

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