Bear baiting ban opposed by Outsiders

Posted: Friday, October 29, 2004

A 2002 Dittman poll showed approximately two-thirds of Alaskan voters opposed the unsportsmanlike hunting practice of baiting black bears. Subsequently, a voter initiative petition garnered more than 30,000 signatures, which resulted in Ballot Measure 3 (BM 3) in this November's election.

Sensing likely defeat at the polls, the proponents, Alaskans for Professional Wildlife Management (APWM), a front organization for Safari Club International (SCI), attacked the proposed bear baiting ban with a barrage of crass distortions and outright lies in a slick brochure. It falsely states that BM 3 now makes it unlawful to intentionally feed bears for photography or viewing. Feeding bears for any reason except hunting has been illegal for years! BM 3 would make bear baiting also illegal for hunting. BM 3 supporters simply want to end this barbaric hunting method, they are not opposing hunting for food.

APWM mailed over 150,000 large glossy postcards with a Native hunter on one side and the threat that "Alaska's heritage is at stake."

The hunter is depicted in the Arctic where there are no black bears to bait. On the other side of the card, the photographer with the camera on a tripod is looking at the Grand Canyon rather than somewhere in Alaska!

According to the card, Outside animal rights and environmental extremists who tried to ban the Iditarod and want to end subsistence hunting are trying to change Alaska by banning bear baiting. Ironically, the APWM is largely the same people who have fought against a rural subsistence preference for largely Native hunters.

Blatant lies and gross distortions regarding BM 3 are even more absurd in the State of Alaska's Official Election Pamphlet, mailed to registered voters. The Statement in Opposition assertion that with BM 3 people could be sent to jail and fined just for having a bird feeder in their backyard that may attract a bear is completely false. A state law already allows levying a $100 fine for careless handling of garbage, pet food, or other food that results in nuisance bears.

Their statements that BM 3 supporters are those who want to ban Native subsistence whale and seal hunting as well as cripple tourism and even ban all commercial fishing is absurd! Bears will still be hunted through fair chase, so populations will not be out of control, and ADFG will still be able to trap and move nuisance bears. Someone taking a bear while protecting their pets or property will not go to jail for a year. The defense of life and property law has existed for many years.

Evidently, those trying to continue bear baiting will stop at nothing, and figure that if enough mud is thrown, some will stick. According to the last APOC report, SCI, the National Rifle Association, and the pro-baiting Ballot Initiative Coalition, based in Virginia, have poured $360,000 of Outside money into Alaska so far.

Please vote yes on Ballot Measure 3!

Edgar Bailey, Homer

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