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December 13, 2017: Hunting for Answers

This morning a good friend sent me a conversational email message and said that she had attached the family holiday newsletter – and added that I might enjoy it even though “you don’t like hunting.”

Her response took me aback because she has never directly asked me my views on the subject. My response was that “I don’t like irresponsible hunters or hunting.” My statement was true, but woefully incomplete.

Pete and I live at the edge of the Matanuska Moose Range, which is state land. Residential properties border this area. Every year, as soon as hunting season opens, hunters come to our area in droves and act in what can only be described as a very irresponsible fashion.

They camp, leave messes, they hunt, leave carcasses. Gut piles are a common sight. And they fire randomly and at will. They also go in on four wheelers and tear up the trails. I fear for my safety and that of my animals during this time of year. In speaking with some of these individuals, I am told “I’m a very responsible hunter.” No one has ever said “I’m an irresponsible hunter,” because they believe that they are acting in a responsible and ethical fashion.

Now I know that Alaska is a huge state, and there are hunters who choose to hunt in areas that are not bordered by residences. Therein lies a second problem and this is the fact that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is woefully ineffectual and woefully understaffed. They make the rules and regulations and these rules and regulations are to a large part economically driven. Trophy game, for in and out of staters is the big draw. Few, if any even abide by Leave No Trace practices and leave the antlers for the smaller critters.

The understaffed and underfunded part. I have repeatedly called The Alaska Department of Fish and Game in order to report hunting violations. And I have been told (repeatedly) “lady, we can’t deal with the problems in your area because Game Management 14-A is larger than the State of Rhode Island and we only have one officer for this area. Call the Alaska State Troopers.” So I have repeatedly called the Alaska State Troopers and been told the same thing.

The Fish and Game office will also give you the line of bull (pun intended that the moose must be “harvested” (is that a euphemism or what?) because otherwise, they become too large in number. Well, one of these very officers (who lives at the edge of the range) once sauntered over to his neighbor’s place and together they estimated how many moose were in Game Management 14 A. When I asked this officer about this practice he shrugged and said that its getting increasingly harder to get data. It’s just too expensive.

Sad to say, each year many moose are killed by motorists. Some would say the only way the numbers are reduced is through organized, seasonal hunts. There is an alternative and it’s Green Infrastructure planning. We change their migratory and browsing habits – they don’t change ours. Green Infrastructure planning levels the playing field.

I won’t talk here about my feelings about gun control, suffice to say that yes, guns also kill people. And I won’t talk here about my feelings about killing migratory birds, suffice to say that the movie Winged Migration should get hunters to think twice before blasting the shit out of a goose that, yearly, covers thousands of miles. And I won’t talk here about my feelings about bear baiting suffice to say that this makes areas unsafe for hikers, bicyclists, and horseback riders. And I won’t talk here about the purpose behind aerial wolf killing, suffice to say that it has been determined by the state legislators that wolves kill moose and trophy moose hunting is a revenue generator for the state.

Next: 345. 12/14/17: Tinni’s Acupuncture Session

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