Feeding of eagles, bears creates unsafe situation

Posted: Thursday, August 26, 2004

Congratulations to Les Palmer for his recent article about the harmful effects of the massive eagle feeding in the Homer area and the negative impacts of feeding bears, intentional or otherwise.

As a wildlife photographer, I did, in years past, photograph the eagle feeding spectacle in Homer. That was before I learned about the serious impact that such an abnormal concentration of eagles is having on the area ecosystem.

Retired biologist Ed Bailey has personally observed eagles killing sandhill cranes on two occasions east of Homer. Numerous other species that are eagle prey are now rare sightings or worse. Further research is obviously needed to confirm or refute these bird count findings.

Mr. Palmer also made an excellent case for diligence in avoiding even unintentional feeding of bears. In November, we will get a chance to vote against the only remaining legal way of feeding bears: bear baiting. This unsportsmanlike practice is opposed by most ethical, fair chase hunters. It habituates bears to human food, creating problem bears and increases the chances of dangerous bear encounters, as they seek human food. A "yes" vote on ballot measure three will solve these problems and keep garbage out of our wild places.

I hope Les will join me in support of real Alaska hunting and encourage his readers to do the same by voting "yes" on three.

John Toppenberg


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