The illegal killing of the Hatcher Pass “Mother Bear” was not intended to become a series. Responses dictated otherwise. Many commented on the sheer brutality and wanton destruction of wildlife under State stewardship---and by the State itself. How did this happen?
Easy! Killing wildlife is a vestige of our past---an evolutionary imperative from a time when it was actually necessary to feed our evolving and energy-hungry brains. [When I feel like it I will do a blog on the evolutionary roots of hunting/trapping.] The urge to kill wild animals will always be with us and must be controlled. Instead, the State’s wildlife management program has fallen into the hands of those who cannot control their evolutionary impulses---nor their pandering to political and commercial interests who profit from the slaughter. Alaska’s governors and State Legislature have turned our wildlife and wildlands over to special interests. Incompetence always comes with that kind of corruption.
Alaska voters twice rejected shooting wolves from aircraft. But half-governor Sarah Palin managed to legalize this vile practice---aided by those voters who stayed home and did not make themselves heard! Remember how Sarah pushed the wolf scare? Remember her glossy and expensive brochure (which you paid for) touting the return to “abundance” if we just shot wolves from aircraft? Sarah, to her credit, mobilized her voting base to get the State to kill wolves. From there on---with the State’s management completely in the hands of hunting, trapping and guiding interests---this “predator control” thing rapidly got out of hand. The wildlife killers got rid of the biologists and brought in pest control boys like Corey Rossi. Nothing like a minority with a perceived mandate to run the wildlife right into the ground, literally! Wolves and bears are being slaughtered statewide at an ever-increasing rate. And the unfulfilled promise of "abundance" is now just a standing excuse for killing yet more predators.
Protecting Alaska’s precious wildlands and wildlife (they go together!) requires constant vigilance. One period of careless voter apathy was all it took to open up the killing fields.
I am not interested in banning hunting or trapping, merely “managing” these activities in accordance with principles of decency, fairness and yes, the Alaska State Constitution. The lesson is clear---if you care about wildlife and wildlands you need to get out and vote at the very least. Now that the damage has been done, it is necessary to actively get organized to run off the brutal and callous wildlife-killers who have taken over the system.
Returning from a six-day backpacking and climbing trip into the Talkeetna Mountains I found a decent exchange of comments on this blog site. Except for “hockeytown” guy (?) who approves the brutal slaughter because he (?) likes game management the way it is and doesn’t want animals taking over. He (?) conjures up images of kids getting mauled by grizzlies in their backyards. Typical of some responses on wildlife---dodging clearly-stated issues and pressing the panic button! Obviously that Hatcher Pass mother grizzly in my last blog was not coming down out of the mountains to maul anyone---even before she was illegally killed. What happens in the Anchorage and Eagle River area is another wildlife problem entirely and not the subject of my blog (I wish we had the wildlife up here that Anchorage enjoys). ”Hockeytown“ just wants to frighten Alaskans…already way too fearful.
THE MELANCHOLY TRADE -
I appreciate the comments by snare-guy, “AKPSmith.” It is always rather disconcerting, however, to hear trappers claiming that trapping/snaring is humane if done properly.
There must be a video somewhere of Don Young doing one of his signature “look-I‘m-putting-a-trap-on-my-hand-and-it-doesn’t-hurt“ routines---the one where it did hurt! I saw it on Alaska TV almost thirty years ago but it emanated from a Seattle station. Even on black and white TV Don’s hand was noticeably turning color. He was squirming around couldn’t wait to get that thing off. Even trapping oneself is not always done “professionally.”
For more realism, “Trapper” Don should have his leg locked into a bear trap (baited with campaign funds) for a week or so outdoors with no food or water. Then we can all watch on remote video while he tries to chew his way out! Now that would be realistic!
At best, trapping and snaring are inherently inhumane practices. We now know that animals “feel” pain because they have a nervous system not much different from our own. And how, pray tell, would you feel if you were trapped! Trappers try to deny obvious facts in order to live with themselves. Others get used to it or just don’t care. Some miserable souls delight in the pain and suffering.
At worst, trapping and snaring are overtly cruel. With hardly any requirement to check traps, the State of Alaska encourages the worst practices. And by the way, the “quick kill” traps and methods are, unfortunately, often indiscriminate.
Sure, the snare is “a precision tool.” Also the gun. But the State of Alaska seems determined to let any damned fool hunt or trap without any but the most minimal of regulations, controls and enforcement. In fact, the State’s policy not only encourages all forms of animal abuse, but (as I said in the blog) actually engages in wildlife abuse itself.
I especially want to thank “dobieman” and “AKPSmith” for a rational interchange on this subject. Actually, my blogs have touched on all the subjects mentioned by “dobieman,” who presented spirited, informative and devastating evidence of Alaska’s corrupt wildlife management system.
It is the land that speaks with final authority. During my six-days climbing in Shorty Creek, above Purches Creek and adjoining valleys, I saw nothing larger than an eagle. Not one single marmot! Unbelievable---the valleys used to ring with their whistles. Very few ground squirrels. Possibly one set of bear tracks crossing a distant snow gully. Other than that, there was not one, single, large Alaskan animal. Not a damned one! A few old moose tracks was all.
Bear in mind that I camp as high up as I dare (lightning flashed a second-and-a-half before thunder reached my ears on the first day). I day-climb as high as possible, staying up there as long as I can. From the mountain tops and ridges I can see into far distant valleys with 10-power binoculars and saw not one animal of any kind. Just the one eagle. Pathetic!
Nor was this trip a one-shot deal---I am outdoors every single day and in the mountains whenever logistically possible at all times of the year. I did see one small grizzly track two weeks ago---a track about the size of a medium black bear. I mention “small” because---aside from the fact that there ain’t hardly none---smaller individuals are clear indicators of over-hunted populations.
I‘ve been climbing around the Talkeetna Mountains for forty years and have lived up here for twenty-four. This includes over five-hundred backpacking overnights and well over a thousand day climbs. Plus numerous day-hikes in the foothills. In this year of 2012 I have never seen the Talkeetna Mountains and surrounding areas looking so barren. When it comes to wildlife things are conspicuously worse every year---and some of the most utterly depleted areas are within the State Park itself.
As if things weren’t tough enough already for wildlife above timberline, loose regulations, poorly funded enforcement and easy access by motorized vehicles expose animals to casual slaughter and a quick getaway. Folks drive up to the Pass, get liquored up, and feel they must shoot something. This is criminal! And don’t tell me these people are “not real hunters!” To the wildlife they are “real” enough!
I don’t see wildlife management changing much in Alaska without a huge public outcry. It is now a State “tradition” to let anyone have a go at the animals. And, of course, this “tradition” is driven by business interests, politics and well-organized groups of “sportsmen” and gun-rights lobbyists. And the profitable trade in motorized vehicles, without which most of these “sportsmen” would be helpless.
Actually, there are not that many people engaged in killing wildlife---which is why I claim that the State unconstitutionally caters to a minority. But those few hunters and trappers sure do a job on the wildlife---aided of course, by every modern technology including industrial strength motorized vehicles and aircraft.
In a nutshell, a relatively few people are brutally wiping out Alaskan wildlife---with the State not only aiding and abetting the slaughter but actually joining in! For all our debates the wildlife is going fast! And the blame lies squarely with foolish Alaskans and a State management system that continues to foster a critical mass of cumulative, destructive, individual acts!
- Rudy Wittshirk
Note: Let me emphasize the graphic nature of the Bornfreeusa link provided below by a commenter. This type of material is particularly repulsive but, as he said, it should be viewed [at least in part just to get the terrible "flavor"] if anyone wants to comment intelligently on the subject of trapping. No bears are shown but you can just use your imagination. - R.
Additional Notes and correction:
Some thoughtful comments by "Keithrog." However, I do not own an "inn." I just took some photographs for the website of friends who own one.
Also, there must have been a comment deleted because I can't figure out who or what "Ospreyy" refers to when he/she says: "It is very poor form to attack commenters in a different forum."
As for "follow[ing]...the common courtesies of even independent blogs..." I didn't realize there were "common courtesies" on the interweb.
Nor did I get the relevance of "Ospreyy's" comment: "I guess they get so few readers that it is practically an obscure blog for all practical purposes."
Thanks, "windspider," for pointing out that fish are treated as if they don't possess a nervous system. I like to fish but they do feel pain, as Bill Sherwonit has correctly pointed out in the past. - R.W.
Reply to “alaskanfirst” -
“Violent rhetoric!“ What the hell are you talking about? I can only guess because your comment is completely unfocused---not one specific reference in your anonymous little remarks!
Presuming you are talking about my suggestions to Don Young to make his “it don’t hurt” trapping demonstrations more “realistic,” would you feel better if I had sent someone to club him over the head and put him out of his misery while he was held in that hypothetical bear trap, instead of allowing him to linger for “a week or so?” Or maybe stepping on his throat…or using one of those little choke-nooses on the end of a stick some trappers prefer. Or, of course, the proverbial bullet?
Anyway, what Alaskans (“first” or otherwise) do to our wildlife is truly “violent.” Is it “way over the top” to accurately and graphically point that out?
And what the hell is a “wildlife occupier?” Is that like being inside the body of an eagle and looking down at you through its eyes? Is that “emotionally unstable” enough for you, Mr. or Ms. anonymous?
And stop dumping on the Anchorage Daily News “for allowing this type of irresponsible histrionics into print!” If you want to criticize the keepers of this blog site, then ask them why they haven’t done a full, ten-part investigative report of the truly “violent” behavior the state of Alaska is inflicting upon our wildlife.
I suggest you stop struggling---then the snare won’t tighten any further and, theoretically at least, it will stop hurting.