Category Archives: News Media Reports

Alaska needs Fish and Game chief to heed science over politics, ideology- ADN article

From Alaska Dispatch, December 8th, 2014. By Stephan Stringham

Dear Governor Walker:

You are at least our fourth governor to promise management of Alaska’s fish, wildlife and habitat resources based on the best available science.

The wisdom of that should be as obvious as assuring that if our kids need medical operations, key decisions will be made by top flight physicians, not by insurance adjusters. It’s like assuring that when we fly in a plane, its maintenance and piloting will done by expert mechanics and pilots, not PR staff.

Unfortunately, each of your recent predecessors has judged “best” science by whatever gave the most convincing rationalization for decisions based on political expediency, rather than by how well the “science” conformed to the laws of nature. Continue reading

Denali Federal and State Wildlife Management Forum: Report from Denali Citizens Council

From the Fall newsletter of Denali Citizens Council

No one expected new decisions to be announced, and little new information was imparted, but at least one of the three panelists at DCC’s August 5 forum on wildlife management at Denali’s boundaries said he saw reason for hope and maybe even progress. Near the end of the two hour forum, John Toppenberg, director of the Alaska Wildlife Alliance (AWA), opined that there were areas in which he and Nate Turner, vice chairman of the state Board of Game (BOG), could agree and cited “rays of hope.”

Recognition of those “rays of hope” came two hours after Toppenberg, in his opening remarks, noted that too often the state’s response to myriad wildlife management issues is, “No problem. Kill more wolves.”

Read the full report at DCC here. (This article begins on page 5)

Black wolf exhibit planned for visitor center – Juneau Empire


A fundraising effort is underway for a planned exhibit at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center featuring the black wolf known to many in the community as “Romeo.”

Romeo Photo by John Hyde

Photo by John Hyde

A group of local volunteers began raising money for the project this week by establishing the Black Wolf Fund through the Juneau Community Foundation, with a stated goal of raising $30,000.

Nick Jans, one of the volunteers who helped organize the fund, said the idea for an exhibit has been a slowly unfolding process, involving collaboration and compromise among several groups, including the Alaska Wildlife Alliance and the U.S. Forest Service, which operates the visitor center. Continue reading

Wolf Wars: Alaska’s Republican governors find vicious ways to kill predators -Slate

Alaska’s Republican governors find vicious ways to kill predators and mark their territory with the feds.

from October 31st 2014. By Krista Langlois

John Burch spent 20 years studying a family of 11 wolves. Then one day last winter, the entire pack was shot dead.

Continue reading

Federal vs State of AK approach to ethics: Battle of the op-eds

On September 9th, 2014,  Joel Hard, Deputy Regional Director for the National Park Service, Alaska, published an editorial in Alaska Dispatch News ( formerly Anchorage Daily News):

Alaska predator control methods conflict with national preserve values

“Shooting wolves and coyotes when they are at the den with young pups. Using artificial light to take black bears and their cubs in dens. Using food like stale bread and bacon grease to attract grizzly bears and then shoot them…

These are not the Alaska hunting practices I learned growing up in Southeast Alaska, and they weren’t the sport-hunting practices that Congress anticipated some 35 years ago as it debated the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. Today, those practices are legal in much of Alaska. The state and its Board of Game use these and other means to reduce the numbers of bears, wolves and coyotes to boost the populations of moose and caribou. In doing so, they are following the laws passed by the Alaska Legislature…

….This week, the National Park Service proposed federal regulations that include a prohibition of the three hunting practices noted above in Alaska’s 10 national preserves. This action came after several years of discussion with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and other state officials. It came after repeated requests to the Board of Game to exempt national preserves from liberalized predator hunting efforts. And it follows multiple years of implementing temporary federal restrictions on these practices. “

Read the full editorial at ADN…

Next up, on September 20th, was Doug Vincent-Lang, director of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Wildlife Conservation:

Vincent-Lang: Pre-empted Alaska hunting regulations are not ‘predator control’

“In his Sept. 10  commentary,  Joel Hard of the National Park Service wrote that certain Alaska hunting practices were not those he learned growing up in Southeast Alaska. While I appreciate Mr. Hard’s personal hunting ethics, I do not believe the National Park Service should insert such opinions and beliefs into federal regulations…

…The regulations being preempted by the Park Service were adopted by the Alaska Board of Game in response to local (mostly subsistence) hunters’ requests to allow their traditional practices to occur. The professionals at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game did not feel it was our role to judge the ethics of these practices. While individual biologists within the department may not have personally agreed with the proposals, leadership did not feel it was our mandate to insert personal hunting ethics into the wildlife management or regulatory process….”

Read the full editorial at ADN…

Vic Van Ballenberghe, a moose and wolf biologist who was appointed to the Alaska Board of Game three times by two governors, responded to Vincent-Lange on September 22nd:

Alaska law does not justify game regulators abandoning decades-old, ethics-based statutes 

“…Vincent-Lang repeatedly states that Hard and other NPS employees used their own ethical judgments when crafting federal regulations challenging the state’s approach. But Hard’s statement that he did not grow up where shooting wolves at dens, using lights to take bears at dens, and grizzly bear baiting were legal was not a reflection of his own ethics but rather an accurate observation that these practices were long illegal under state regulations until they were recently employed to reduce predator populations…

When I served on the board at various times between 1985 and 2002, Fish and Game and the board were very much concerned with ethical standards, and previous boards since statehood clearly were too. That is why shooting wolves from airplanes by private pilots, same-day airborne shooting of all big game species, herding of animals with motor vehicles, the use of poison, transporting hunters with helicopters, trapping bears, gassing wolf pups at dens and a host of other practices were made illegal prior to 2002. But since 2002, in its zeal to accomplish intensive management, the board decided to abandon long-held ethical standards and adopt extreme methods to reduce bears and wolves. And Fish and Game stood idly by, claiming as Vincent-Lang does, that the only standard is one of maintaining sustained yield…”

Read the full editorial at ADN…