As a member of the Unit 19(D) East (McGrath) Adaptive Management Team, I learned what balanced management means to radical hunters and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The subsistence needs of McGrath require 3,000 to 3,500 moose. ADF&G calculates there are now 3,440 moose near McGrath. Meeting the need also requires having a bull-cow ratio of 30-100, which is normal for a healthy hunted population. Accurate surveys showed the ratio in areas popular for McGrath hunters to be as low as 6-100 near McGrath and 37-100 further out, and over hunting being the major problem.
McGrath hunters complaining about not finding bull moose because their neighbor found it first. Permit system anyone?
Regardless of these facts, this spring ADF&G moved bears out of the 500-square-mile popular hunting area close to McGrath. Now the board is authorizing fly-by shooting of wolves in 1,700 square miles at McGrath. They also authorized land-and-shoot for wolves in 7,800 square miles of Unit 13. This balances the few able to shoot from planes with a lot being able to land and shoot. Is land-and-shoot ethical and efficient control or is it sport?
Removing wolves and bears and replacing them with hunters is today's hunter-dominated board definition of balanced wildlife management. Having concern for past votes against aerial hunting only upsets their agenda.
Leo Keeler, Wilderness Inspirations, Anchorage
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