The antlerless moose hunt approved by the state Fish and Game Department seems to have stirred up ...
The antlerless moose hunt approved by the state Fish and Game Department seems to have stirred up several long-time Alaska residents, as well as some newcomers to the 49th state.
One of those leading the vocal and written barrage against the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is Don Sheldon, owner and operator of Talkeetna Air Service and a 32-year Alaskan resident.
Sheldon believes that an antlerless hunt, even scheduled in November or December and not in the early spring, would still have disastrous results on the state's moose population. He said that if cows were killed in the early winter their following calves would have no protection from predators and starvation during the Alaskan winter. Also, Sheldon stated, the calf crop for next spring would be severely depleted. Enough claves die during the winter, he went on, without killing their only protection.
Sheldon says some suspect insurance companies to be behind the push to rid populated areas of the moose, since moose are a traffic hazard. Moose were here before the insurance companies, Sheldon argues. He insists long-time Alaskans and people who live in the bush areas of the 49th state know what the situation is. He feels the state should not kill off the moose population to improve insurance liability.
He spends four to five hours per day on the average flying over the state, he says. "Hunters in the Wasilla-Anchorage area are hard-pressed to get even one moose."
He goes on to say, from the stand-point of meat, a cow moose with a following calf or expecting in spring is "not fit to eat."
In answer to the Game Division stand that many Alaskan areas are running short of browse for moose to feed on, Sheldon denied this as ridiculous and stated that Alaska has millions of acres of good browse and the browse is not confined as it is in many areas Outside.
Sheldon offered what he considered to be a much better solution than killing off the female moose or claves to rid populated areas of moose. He said that game officials should use tranquilizer guns and, backed up by the National Guard and ground force units of the Army, should ship the moose out of this area, where they might be causing trouble.
Sheldon continued his attack on the game division when he stated that moose and other animals of Alaska have managed to survive for centuries without moose management, and , with present management practices, posterity would be lucky to have any moose.
He said, "Everyone in the whole area is ready to go down and clobber the commission."
When asked if attended the spring board meeting that decided to have the moose hunt, Sheldon replied that he did not go, but has attended these meetings on several occasions. He said that all suggestions land on blind eyes and deaf ears and further charged that all plans are foregone conclusions. He said this is wrong, for they (the commission and game division) are destroying the game they are paid to protect.
Sheldon went on to say that, in his opinion, the Fish and Game Department stands alone. He stated they are not local residents so they intend to manage Alaska's moose like the deer of Pennsylvania or Minnesota are managed. He said these are two separate things in two separate climates.
Another long-time Alaskan, Irish Waller, who wrote a Letter to the Editor, published in the Oct. 22nd issue of the Times, is an avid hunter. He is probably best known as a ranking wildlife and scenic artist who is a three-time art winner at the annual Fur Rendezvous.
Waller "...old-time Alaskans, and that with so many years in Alaska cannot all be wrong," Waller concluded.
These long-time Alaskans do not seem to be alone in their stand against the antlerless moose hunt. Mrs. Paul Johnson, a resident for two years, also feels the cow-moose hunt is a mistake.
She feels that if there is an over-population of moose, normal hunting of bulls should take care of the problem. She also contends that a lot of illegal moose are taken each year that the Game Division has no record of.