Alaska Voices: Rudy Wittshirk

Rudy Wittshirk is a writer who lives in Willow.

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Politics of the Apocalypse (part 3) - The American Dream Of Wealth And Salvation - 3/12/2014 6:09 pm

Get Out On The New Snow…Read This First - 3/5/2014 8:40 pm

Politics of the Apocalypse (part 2): Shutdown: Teapublicans Are The Party Of Deliberate Failure - 2/25/2014 3:26 pm

Politics of the Apocalypse (part 1): America, you are already owned by Big Money! - 2/15/2014 5:33 pm

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Close contact with a moose calf - 2/3/2014 8:56 pm

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Alaska Fish and Game under fire---the “Cora and Corey show” is over as wildlife exterminators exterminate themselves

Recently-resigned Division of Wildlife Conservation director in Alaska, Corey Rossi, admitted to sleazy wildlife violations when he was an assistant big game guide in 2008. Regarding these rather casual and imprudent transgressions by her underling, Fish and Game commissioner Cora Campbell felt compelled to say, "I think there are some people who would like to make this about the department's programs but it isn't…this is about an individual; it's not about our programs."

Really? Rossi lied about wildlife he killed, apparently so non-resident hunters, under the “guidance” of the guiding service, could kill yet more of Alaska’s wildlife. Isn’t that exactly what “our” wildlife management “programs” are all about? The state has filled top positions in Fish and Game with unqualified personnel because there is only one “program”---killing wolves and snaring bears. And, despite rhetoric about the vanishing “subsistence” lifestyle and filling Alaskan “freezers,” predator control is geared to benefit non-resident hunters and Alaska big game guiding services.

Rossi is the substance, symbol and embodiment of the predator-killing “programs.” A founding member of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife; statewide spokesman for sister organization, Sportsmen for Habitat (Utah) whose founder, Don Peay, bragged in a newsletter that “our members are politically positioned to help SFW.”

Mr. Rossi officially handed out privileged access to Alaska’s fish and game, giving four “governor’s permits” to Peay’s organization this year to be sold off at national conventions for big bucks. Despite constitutional guarantees giving residents equal access to fish and game in Alaska, Rossi also wanted to authorize governor’s permits when Alaskans were not allowed to hunt, such as before regular season openings; hunting anywhere in Alaska; hunting with one tag; same-day airborne hunting; even using helicopters.

Rossi was brought on board precisely he was just the type of scientifically-unqualified wildlife exterminator the State was looking for to implement its simpleminded “Intensive Predator Control” program. The state has systematically gotten rid of wildlife biologists in the top ranks of Fish and Game and replaced them with incompetent oafs like Rossi. Sarah Palin fought to get Corey Rossi into Alaska Fish and Game where a special position was created for him. The state fought to keep Rossi on board despite a signed letter from 39 former Fish and Game supervisors and biologists in 2010 pointing out the glaringly obvious lack of education and scientific training for his position.

While not quite so grotesquely unqualified as the man derisively called the “gopher choker,” Commissioner Campbell herself is a questionable appointee---part of Gov. Sarah Palin's administration in fisheries with a degree in education, not wildlife science. In testimony before the Alaska legislature, she clearly agreed not to interfere with the grisly experiments known as “intensive” predator-killing. So despite Cora Campbell’s claims, this Rossi scandal is all about Alaska's bloody wildlife management “programs“---and it ensnares her as well. Under her leadership, real wildlife biologists in Fish and Game are encouraged to keep their contrary scientific findings to themselves. This is right in line with Governor Parnell’s policy on polar bears and climate change---the science must never interfere with resource extraction.

The state is frantically killing wolves and bears to meet two impossible demands. With or without predator control Alaska will never be able to meet residents’ ever-increasing demands for moose to shoot---even if that were its only goal. However, as the Rossi scandal implies---the state also has an agenda to satisfy Alaska big game guiding interests and their non-resident clients. That’s where the big bucks are and why Fish and Game is top-heavy with guiding interests and unqualified, obliging managers like Cora Campbell. This scandal goes right to the heart of Alaska’s most controversial wildlife management practice and begs the question---for whom, exactly, is the state killing wolves and snaring grizzly bears?

Rudy Wittshirk

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