Tanana Chiefs delegates question Knowles

Posted: Thursday, March 16, 2000

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Gov. Tony Knowles left Fairbanks with a silvery wolf parka ruff after his address to delegates of the Tanana Chiefs Conference annual convention Tuesday afternoon.

The gift provided a light moment at the end of nearly an hour of tough questions to Knowles from convention participants, but the fur carried a serious message, TCC President Steve Ginnis said: enough wolf studies.

''We're just trying to tell him to follow the lead of the Board of Game,'' Ginnis said.

The board of game has approved wolf control proposals in several areas of the state, but Gov. Knowles has refused to implement the plans.

''People are very concerned about predator control and I think they expressed that very well,'' Ginnis said.

Knowles spoke to the convention, and then spent about an hour responding to questions on topics ranging from wolf control and subsistence to the closure of small rural schools.

Knowles told convention participants that he supports appealing the Katie John subsistence decision because he believes that the state should be in charge of its resources.

''I believe fervently in state sovereignty,'' Knowles said, adding that he believes just as fervently in a rural priority for subsistence.

The two are not mutually exclusive, he said.

The federal government has taken over management of subsistence fishing in Alaska waters because state laws governing subsistence conflict with federal subsistence laws. The state grants all Alaskans equal access to fish and game. The federal government requires that rural residents be given a subsistence priority.

''Alaskans will be forever separated by dual management,'' he said.

Although Knowles also talked about the economy, education and how the two are linked when it comes to providing jobs for rural Alaskans, his audience zeroed in on the hunting and fishing issues. At the close of his speech, Knowles fielded questions -- some of them pointed -- for about an hour.

Verdene Anselment, a convention delegate from Medfra, in the McGrath area, told Knowles that the wolf population is out of control where she lives. She sees wolves near her home so often that she cannot allow her grandchildren to play outdoors.

''I would like to see you have the courage to work with us,'' Anselment said, and call for an end to studies.

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