Rep. Don Young lashes out at Fish and Wildlife Service

Posted: Friday, February 01, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Rep. Don Young has lashed out at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Alaska, accusing the agency of abusing its authority and spreading flawed scientific information.

Young said Wednesday that the agency is using the subsistence management issue to increase its authority.

''The Fish and Wildlife (Service) is sort of a free agent in Alaska, and they are getting involved in many different things without consultation with many of our different residents,'' Young said. ''They've taken on the role of federal subsistence, and they're doing this and making decisions without, I think, proper consultation, and we're going to see if we can't encourage them to have the right attitude.''

He also took the Alaska agency to task for its analysis of the potential effects of oil development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge's coastal plain.

''Case in point, the state fish and wildlife itself made a study of the caribou in ANWR and said there would be no harm,'' Young said. ''And yet here comes the federal Fish and Wildlife and says there would be all kinds of it, without backing it up with any facts.''

Agency spokeswoman Karen Boylan defended the agency against the charge that it was not listening closely enough to Alaskans.

''Listening to the public is fundamental to our mission,'' Boylan said. ''We fully follow the secretary's four Cs -- consultation, cooperation, and communication in the name of conservation.''

She said Fish and Wildlife is the lead agency in the federal government's network of regional advisory councils set up to comment on subsistence hunting and fishing issues. The council system ''is one of the most active and involved exchanges with people all over Alaska who are vitally interested in subsistence,'' Boylan said.

The agency also funds and cooperates with Native commissions on walrus, polar bear and sea otter management. And it participates in the federal migratory bird council, a co-management group with designated seats for state, federal and Native officials.

''On all of the commissions and the Native organizations, there is tremendous involvement,'' Boylan said.

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