Letter: Killing bears in dens is wrong

Black bear in Cordova, AK. (Photo by Cinthia Gibbens-Stimson)

The killing of a mother black bear and her cubs at their snow-covered den in Prince William Sound in April by an Alaska “hunter” was a depraved and, in this instance, illegal act. Fortunately, there happened to be a hidden research camera filming the den site, and the bad guys were caught. This incident has sparked national outrage, appropriately so.

But the larger scandal here is that this cruel practice, called “denning” and/or “spotlighting,” is currently permitted by Gov. Walker’s Board of Game – all appointed or reappointed by Walker – across millions of acres of Alaska’s Interior. This is precisely what Walker now wants the authority to permit on national preserves and national wildlife refuges in Alaska. Last year, the Trump administration granted this authority for the state to permit such unethical practices on Alaska’s 77 million acres of national wildlife refuges, and it now proposes to permit such on national park service preserves across Alaska.

Although an overwhelming majority of Alaskans oppose the killing of mother bears and their cubs in their dens, killing wolves and pups at their dens, using dogs to hunt bears, and bear baiting, Walker, (and of course Dunleavy, Treadwell, et al) supports such unethical practices. These gents seem far more concerned about the Safari Club’s interests than the interests of Alaskans.

If this is the kind of governor one wants, then Walker – or the Republican candidates – are your guys. But if one wants to bring science, ethics, economics, public interest and common decency back to wildlife management in Alaska, Mark Begich is clearly the only hope.

Rick Steiner, Anchorage

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