Some people have asked what happened to the three orphaned cubs in my June 9, 2012 blog (“Last breeding grizzly sow killed at Hatcher Pass in defense of her cubs---Alaska wildlife management in action”).
A trusted informant had told me of witnessing six or so hunters chasing down the familiar (to him) grizzly family to its den by using their snowmachines to “herd” the animals and then killing the mother when she came out in defense of her cubs. I ran into this informant the other day and he says it would have been fruitless to pursue charges of using motorized vehicles to chase down the bears since, “without a video it would be my word against six.”
Through another informant it appears the same bunch were heard to brag about killing the mother. They also went back and killed the three cubs. As far as Alaska Fish and Game is concerned it was all “legal!”
There are some “hunters” these days actually willing to dismount their machines to pursue bears through the snow on foot---at least I would hope so. However, it’s much more convenient just to run them down with snowmachines and boast later about what great hunters they are.
As it stands now, the rule prohibiting the use of motorized machinery to harass, chase, herd, corral and run down wild animals in order to kill them is little more than a legal nicety that many do not observe if they think they can get away with it. For decades I have witnessed hunters in Alaska chasing down and killing wildlife with motorized machinery---it’s a “tradition!”
The obvious solution is to implement and enforce (depending on the area) a no same-day vehicle borne hunting regulation; and no-hunting within at least one-mile of any vehicle or roadway. Obviously, it would be political suicide for any politician to back such laws. Most Alaskans have grown accustomed to doing their hunting while riding around on padded seats. [I really admire the very few hunters on foot I ran into this year.]
SUCH GREAT BEAUTY---SO MUCH EMPTINESS OF DEATH -
I ran into an unusually high number of “road hunters” this season. Slowly…very slowly…riding around on roadways in cars, pickups, four-wheelers and six-wheelers looking for moose or something to shoot. This in an area that just had a terrible Winter kill-off of moose---in addition to already low numbers from decades of overhunting. In an age where Alaska wildlife in and anywhere near the highway and road systems has been killed off, “road hunting” is a desperation, bottom-of-the-barrel move.
Around here, knowledgeable and persistent locals can often get their moose---sometimes getting lucky and killing one by the roadside. Hopefully not on the road, which is illegal but all too convenient. Hopefully not by using motorized vehicles to run them down.
The State of Alaska and the politics of Fish and Game are the culprits here. On top of the tacit legalization of the use of motor vehicles to do just about anything to wild animals, it is now “legal’” to allow the killing of the last of a species in an already-depleted area. Many “hunters” are not only gleefully willing to wipe out the last animals but are also quite willing to break the rules in the process because they know nothing will come of it.
So, as far as Alaska Fish and Game is concerned---and lacking sufficient evidence---it was “legal“ for these local “hunters” to wipe out an entire family in an area where the bear population has been steadily declining. Fish and Game knows who killed those bears and there ain’t nothin’ they can do about it. Wildlife officers in the field know the system is stacked against enforcement because their higher-up Fish and Game officials now represent only the wildlife-killing industry.
And there’s the political connection. Alaska Fish and Game is run by the professional guiding and hunting industry---“road hunting” and other forms of motorized hunting are nothing more than token gestures of legalized poaching for the average hunter who can‘t afford to hire a guiding service for a fly-in hunt. “Road hunting” and motorized hunting maintain the illusion that the average person can still get a moose in Alaska. It’s officially called a “hunting opportunity!” This slogan is intended to obscure the reality that the actual "good hunting" is over.
Alaska’s wildlife is not being pushed further and further into the wilderness---it is simply being wiped out further and further into the wilderness.
- Rudy Wittshirk
THE LAST OF THE LOST FRONTIER -
I realize I’m spitting into gale-force winds here---but please, Ladies and Gentlemen, keep the name-calling to a minimum.
In 24 years of living in this area I have witnessed not only the wiping out of wildlife on a massive scale by Humans---I have seen the land chewed up as well. And I've heard the blame placed on---you guessed it---the wolves and the bears that have also been nearly wiped out by Humans.
The truth is far more terrible than any name-calling. And the truth is that we, as a species, are at war against the land as well as at war against wildlife. The truth is that the Hatcher Pass area is a sacrificial motorized vehicle and hunting grounds. The land and the animals are sacrifices offered up by the State as a distraction to unfulfilled male and she-male egos...a sucking diversion from the reality that we are sucking Alaska dry.
Regarding this blog, an outside friend wrote: "...these 'hunters' will be really happy when there is no more wildlife left. How stupid!"
I wrote back: "These hunters see themselves as 'good' for wildlife. They see themselves as the only true conservationists seeking to 'balance' Nature. They see themselves as the only ones who know all about Nature."
These hunters think they know all about wildlife because they kill a lot of animals. These hunters think they know all about the land because they tear up a lot of it with machinery.
SEE ALASKA BEFORE ALASKA DIES -
I have friends and neighbors in the hospitality and other businesses. I have friends who would love to come to Alaska. I would love for them to see the beauty that is still here…before it is all spoiled. So I am not going to tell anyone to keep their outside-tourist dollars outside…but many have already made that decision on their own.
The comment by “AlaskanTexan” is right on “the money,” so to speak. This is all about total exploitation of Alaska by outside oil and other resource industries who care nothing for the land or the animals. And the comment by “vivazappata” makes the connection to the recent decision of the Board of Game to deny protection for a few Denali Park wolves who happen to wander out of the Park. The buffer zone was supposed to be for tourists, so they could get to see something of “wild Alaska.” But no---this is “total war!” And the motivating factor is total greed! And the State of Alaska, from Governor Parnell on down, is involved in the total destruction of Alaska to get the last dollar out of her. Those who run down wild animals with vehicles are just unwitting pawns in a larger game.
Not only is Hatcher Pass a wildlife and wildlands management crime scene, but the entire State of Alaska is headed for a complete and total cleansing of wildlife and a total degradation of the wildlands. It is a team effort.
So, next time you take your annual drive through Hatcher Pass and see barely a single living wild thing, remember that this is where all of Alaska is headed. And, if you look closely, you will notice that the land itself has also been run over as well. Alaska is no more than a motorized nightmare for the animals, for the wildlands and for those who actually care about these rare and precious things.
TheErudite (comment below) gives good information on reporting game violations.
Interim thoughts on wild lands and wild animals:
A SINGLE GUNSHOT TELLS THE TALE -
“Blam!” A single, small-gauge shotgun report at 9:30 AM on September 26. I know what the recreational cabin builder was thinking! Oh, boy! Moose season was over yesterday but I have got me a ptarmigan!
One ptarmigan! I’ve seen about as many ptarmigan this year as moose---and there have been damned few moose. This thoughtless person may well have killed the last ptarmigan in the area---and he probably feels real good about it! And it was "legal!"
Speaking of moose---someone tossed the head of a young bull into private property of a nearby subdivision, horns gouged out. Probably a legal kill but an illegal disposal. Ho hum!
ANOTHER HIGHWAY CARIBOU MASSACRE? STAY TUNED ON THIS ONE!
There are photographs of someone shooting “from the back of his truck” at a herd of caribou on the Denali Highway---caribou already being stampeded by other hunters. And a call to Fish and Game where, it is alleged, the lady who answered the “hotline” said it was not legal to shoot from the road but legal to shoot from a vehicle if it was not moving. This ambiguous answer is being checked with one “Olin, biologist.”
INDIFFERENCE DEPENDS ON NERVE CIRCUITRY AND MOTHER EARTH DON’T HAVE ANY -
When I came to Alaska over forty years ago I figured to find people who really knew and understood Nature---and the connection of the wild land to our lives. Okay, there are the Natives, but generally this is my biggest disappointment about Alaska.
The comment or “yawn” by “IamJim” [and the sound-effects by one person] represents the apparent majority of Alaskans---totally uninterested in the wild and wild animals. Interested in Nature only for exploitation.
But the Earth is not a conscious entity. The Earth is not even indifferent (as so many have referred to Nature) for that would imply that the Earth actually thinks about us at all. The Earth does not “think!” Mother Earth is not “bored” with our destruction of wild Nature as these two commenters seem to be. Rather, “she” is simply affected by the things we do. Quite predictably affected in scientific ways which can, admittedly, be complex. As we wreck the thin shell of atmosphere, land and ocean upon which we depend for life…wiping out the wildlife is just part of the process.
The reality is that this civilized indifference is killing wild Alaska. And the connection is that we are killing the Planet, which is the same as killing Humankind because we remain connected to Nature whether we know it or not, like it or not, or feel ideologically inclined to believe it or not. We Humans evolved with Nature and now we are in denial of everything connected with the Earth. It will be the death of us.
WILDLIFE STEWARDS: PUT YOUR JOBS ON THE LINE!
I agree with “BORNandRAISEDAK”…but not the part where Alaska Department of Fish and Game can’t do anything to change the “military” and other slob hunter mentality and reality. They could do actual “science;“ insist on stopping the overhunting; and stuff the motor sport. They could challenge their political hack bosses…challenge the politicians…challenge the greedy hunters...challenge the wildlife killing industry. But no! The politics of greed and the incestuous takeover of Fish and Game by the wildlife killing industry precludes any sane policy. That’s why “road hunting” is the official poor man’s fly-in!
To those of you who have expressed indifference or just made noises, remember that Alaska’s wildlands and wild animals are a public trust, covered in the Alaska Constitution. That makes the squandering of wildlands and wild animals a political and economic crime---just in case some of you can’t understand the underlying connection of Humans to Nature.
SOME REASONABLY POLITE COMMENTS -
Thanks to Camp7, Dobieman666, South Africa and others for your comments. Dobieman and Camp7, you have a way of describing wilderness experiences. Camp7: great exposition of a sheep hunt! Great writing!