Alaska's Game Board votes to protect bears
Author: teddygirl | Thursday March 08, 2007
The following press release is from Defenders of Wildlife, an organization that protects all native wild animals and plants in their natural communities:
Anchorage, AK -- Defenders of Wildlife applauded the decision by Alaska's Board of Game to keep the Kamishak Special Use Area lands closed to hunting. The board's vote upholds a two-decade policy that has kept the area closed to bear hunting and provided a sanctuary for the
McNeil River bears as they travel freely between Katmai National Park and Preserve, the McNeil River State Game Sanctuary and Refuge and the Kamishak Special Use Area lands.
"The McNeil River bears will remain one of Alaska's protected wildlife treasures," said Tom Banks, Alaska representative for Defenders of Wildlife. "These bears are so acclimated to human presence that they allow a steady stream of photographers, scientists and visitors to view them on a daily basis during the salmon spawning season. To the public, these bears are known not just by their color or size, but by name."
Defenders, other conservation groups, local businesses and hunting guide services signed on to a public letter to the Board of Game and Governor Sarah Palin that was printed in last Sunday's Anchorage Daily News. The letter asked to keep the Kamishak Special Use Area closed to hunting. More than 29,000 Defenders supporters from Alaska and the rest of the country contacted the board asking them to maintain the ban.
The McNeil River Bear Refuge represents the best viewing area for brown bears in the world. Each year thousands of tourists come to the nearby Katmai National Park and McNeil River State Game Sanctuary to view bears capturing spawning salmon.
"The bears' tolerance of humans provides a unique opportunity for wildlife watchers and photographers, but would be disastrous for the bears if the area was opened to hunting," said Banks. "Fortunately, the Board of Game made the right decision this time and we applaud them."
The Board of Game will continue to meet through March 12th.
Defenders of Wildlife is a leading nonprofit conservation organization recognized as one of the nation's most progressive advocates for wildlife and its habitat. With more than 500,000 members and supporters, Defenders of Wildlife is an effective leader on endangered species issues.
For more information, visit Defenders' website: http://www.defenders.org