More hunters, more dollars


As an avid hunter and wildlife enthusiast, I read your recent feature on Alaska's predator control program with keen interest (HCN, 2/21/2011). Surprisingly, neither writer seems to have grasped the dirty little secret that underlies modern day wildlife management: It's not about wildlife, it's about hunter opportunity. Put simply, anything that negatively impacts huntable populations -- especially ungulates -- is bad, and anything that boosts those populations is good. When game numbers go down, so do license revenues. Forget weather, disease, loss of habitat -- if game quotas are down, there must be a problem. Since no one can control the weather, habitat loss is more of a structural problem, and limiting hunters means reduced license revenue, the easiest way to influence game populations is through predator control.

Author Tracy Ross seems to think that bear baiting is "exciting." Clearly, she doesn't have much experience killing critters. For this hunter, the words, sickening, offensive and pathetic would be more accurate. Bear-baiting and shooting wolves from aircraft is not hunting, which is premised upon fair chase. It is blood sport, pure and simple.

Until wildlife managers and hunters give up on the idea that wildlife populations should remain static at a level that offers maximum hunter opportunity, there will always be a struggle between "good wildlife" and "bad wildlife."

Whether it's wolves and bears eating too many caribou, or foxes eating too many grouse, there will always be predators to demonize. It's hard to fathom how all these species managed to survive together for several millennia before we had planes, poison and traps to save them from each other.

Michael Downey
Helena, Montana

cat koehn
cat koehn says:
Mar 08, 2011 09:08 PM
Michael is right - most such mis-management is just a 'GAME' to them, a way to make MONEY. It's a shame that our 'Game' Mgrs refuse to even give credence to research facts that document that Cougars help the population viability of ungulate populations, by taking down the old and unfit.

Then they refuse to support adequate Habitat Protections that WOULD stand a chance at improving elk herds, like protected 'ROADLESS areas' - there are NO places in Oregon now that hunters can't just DRIVE UP and start shooting, like a 'shooting gallery' -no protective large Wilderness expanse that isn't covered in Rocks and Ice. They paid Mike Wisdom out in Eastern OR for decades to study elk and their reactions to motors - Guess what he found... Elk RUN AWAY from Motors (surprise, surprise.)..but the 'Game'Mgrs. don't listen to the well-documented facts that ACCESS KILLS.
-Elk can DIE from the stress of using up their precious 'Energy Budgets' in winter, running from SNOWMOBILES or any MOTOR. The elk are so scared by motors that they RUN MILES!

We need better management; whole NEW state "Wildlife PROTECTION Agencies' to undo the terrible biologic damage that has been CAUSED by most Western 'GAME' Depts. -How many MILLIONS does YOUR state 'GAME' agencies get for a Budget each year???...Think of all the MONEY taxpayers could SAVE if we just cut their budgets and hired biologist that really will protect our invaluable wildlife resources, 'instead of just using them for more 'Fish in a barrel' to MAKE MONEY.

Cat Koehn

Cat Koehn