Watchable Wildlife is an Economic Building Block
by Jim Kowalsky
Wayne Heimer’s recent opinion piece, “The Usual Suspects again on Denali Wolves Plan,” is flawed with wrong information but most importantly, raises major questions. Lest his notions be taken here as real stuff, his piece is a threat in this dystopian post fact society merits first a look at a few of his many notions.
Mr. Heimer’s claim that the Alaska Board of Game (BOG) serves the Alaska public is not supportable. A documentation of a recent 20 year period of BOG actions taken reveals that the BOG received 225 non consumptive proposals for regulatory changes during that time requiring non hunting and trapping Alaskan wildlife. These mostly could have come from among the 80% of Alaska’s population who do not own hunting nor trapping licenses. Eight proposals were were adopted, about 174 were considered but failed, and 40 weren’t even considered. This BOG consisting of 7 hunters and trappers demonstrably fails to serve the Alaska public at large. Its ongoing refusal to protect wandering Denali Park wolves is a clear case in point, a measure favored by a majority of Alaskans in a recent statewide survey.
A board that acts selectively and virtually exclusively on behalf of a minority of our populace cannot be considered to be acting on behalf of the Alaskan public.
Also Mr. Heimer selectively picks language from Article 8 of our Alaska Constitution he says mandates managing wildlife specifically for those who take it. However Article 8 language also makes a crystal clear statement, that Alaska resources belong – not a to a selective few – but to ALL Alaskans. Alaskans unfortunately have a problem here of equal representation.
Figuring directly into this picture is ADFG’s own contracted study, “The Economic Importance of Wildlife in 2011,” (published by Econorth, 2014). Here an extensively peer reviewed analysis concludes that economic benefits generated by the non hunting wildlife viewing experience outpace those from hunting by a factor of NEARLY DOUBLE… Many more shoot with cameras and it is adding up.
Now is the time to switch to an enlightened Alaska wildlife policy. Living watchable wildlife including Denali wolves is a major Alaska economic building block and should be managed as such. Mr. Heimer, legislators and whomever is governor must awaken to the realities and join in the effort for the change.
Opinion piece by Jim Kowalsky, a 50 year Fairbanks resident activist and musician, chairs Alaskans FOR Wildlife