I'm responding to Dennis Barnard's letter dated July 11, regarding the "Windriver Bear Dog Program". I read his letter, which basically was a complaint against the State of Alaska Fish and Game department for not doing more to help with the bears on the Russian River. He mentioned the Karelian bear dogs not even being taken into account for a possible answer. First, Mr. Barnard, who do you think is going to PAY for something like that? Who is going to go out with the bear radar and have dogs in tow? You?
This may work in Montana, where the bears are not as big and aggressive as our bears. Montana doesn't have the huge fishing/tourism issue. The problem is not the bears. They are in their habitat. We are the problem. More and more people flood the Kenai Peninsula every single year, and go straight for the Russian River They don't practice safe fishing on the banks, they leave their garbage everywhere, then wonder, why the bears are a problem! I also realize the bears are increasing in numbers, but until it has been deemed necessary to weed them out, well, its part of Alaska: BIG-WILD-LIFE!
Back to the Bear Dog program. Quoting the site: www.beardogs.org "The dogs are used to 'speak to the bears', as cued by their handlers, by barking and chasing bears away from places that will put them in conflict with people." We are not talking about bears who just happen to wander onto a property. We are talking about huge bears with cubs who are hungry, who have for generations fished the Russian River as well. They see all the action and food as a "dinnerbell". We as the people living here, need to have a more proactive approach. Teach the tourists about how to handle being in bear country. Because basically, Alaska IS bear country. I do not feel it appropriate to sacrifice a poor dogs life when your out walking at night on the Russian River when you shouldn't be. Remember the poor dog that saved his family from a bear on Skilak Lake a month or so ago? Didn't turn out so great for the dog! That was a black bear, not a brownie.
Back to my point. Secure your food and do NOT bring food into the fishing areas with you. Toss your carcasses of salmon into the river. I hear alot of complaining, but every year, we see the aftermath of the combat fishing littering the river. Then, we wonder why there are alot of bears. Why should they leave when there is a buffet lined up every single day? Be bear smart and give them the room they deserve. Carry a gun for safety. THAT is how we fish in Alaska!
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