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Thread: Opinion Piece by BoG Member Bob Bell

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Default Opinion Piece by BoG Member Bob Bell

    I figured that this article by Board of Game member Bell was worth reading.

    Here is a short excerpt:

    Over the years there has been a debate about the composition of the Alaska Board of Game. A recent letter from some former board members suggests that the board should have members that represent non-comsumptive users of wildlife. Other groups, such as the Defenders of Wildlife, have suggested that maybe there should be a member who represents the tourism industry. These groups complain that the board currently only has members to represent hunting and trapping interests.

    I have been on the Board of Game for two years now and I can tell you that I don't represent any of the groups noted above. I represent the game populations of this state. I, and I am sure the other six board members, make decisions based on what is best for the game population, including predator, prey and non-game species.

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    Default noted

    I noted that opinion piece this morning myself. It's exactly what I have been arguing on the ADN blogs. Manage the animals and habitat and all user groups benefit. Keep the politics out of it.

    I see his words and intentions are already being twisted by anti-hunters in the comments section.

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    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Default some critique of Bob's op-ed

    Thanks for posting on this, Brian.

    I think Bob vastly oversimplified things in the op-ed and also amplified current misperceptions about the role of ADFG and the role of the Board of Game. I also don't think he should have spoken for anyone other than himself.


    As to the oversimplifications...Bob implies that predator control programs are only implemented in areas where prey species have crashed, and that in those same areas the predators have also crashed because they don't have enough to eat. Well in Unit 16 where the black bear control program is...sure seems like there are a whole lot of black bear predators. And the 20E control program was instituted after a previous control program to boost the Fortymile herd...and the reasoning behind the new control program was that the success of the previous program that doubled the size of the Fortymile herd put some much prey biomass out there that the wolves were coming back too fast.

    So it's a vast oversimplification to imply that we only do predator control in areas where prey populations have "crashed" and/or where predator populations have also crashed.

    In the end, Bob's own argument works against him. If Board of Game members are there to represent the game in the state and no particular group, then it shouldn't matter if they are hunters, non-hunters, trappers or non-trappers. A non-consumptive user on the BOG could make just as wise (or unwise) decisions.

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    Member BRWNBR's Avatar
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    Default

    it don't matter how smooth someone tries to make the waters in the BOG pond, it wont' be smooth enough. Bob took a stab at coming across neutral (all i read was brians quote) and it almost worked.
    DOW will always want someone on the BOG just like Obama will want Democrats sitting in Congress, get your foot in the door and try to swing a bias. We don't need a bias, we need blind. We need people who can look at the sustained yield, trends in harvest and die offs, rural needs, the soft edge of politics (ie wolf control) and have a feel for how to work with all the aspects involved. We don't need bunny huggers and we don't need wolf killers. We need people blind to the outside influences and with a genuine caring for the status of our natural resources.
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    Default Yup

    Right on Jake! Whether Mr. Bell practices what he preaches or not, I agree with the idea he was preaching. No one should be on the board who has an agenda other than managing Alaska's game in a sustainable manner. They should listen to the biologists and take it from there.

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    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Until we de-politicize how the Board of Game members are chosen we are always going to have bias. I've seen the Board vote on some things the complete opposite of what ADFG and Wildlife Troopers advised. You got those two agencies telling the Board they don't think something will be best for wildlife but Board goes and votes for it anyway.

    Sad fact is that the extremes the Board votes in are only there cuz of inherent bias. And it usually isn't ever a unanimous vote either. Quite
    frankly I was offended by Bob's last line of the op-ed: "Let's not turn this mission political by insisting on board members who represent user groups rather than the animals."

    Let's not turn this mission political? What doublespeak coming from a BOG member who knows darn well it already is completely political. For crying out loud, last two governors and vast majority of hunters (not me) demand that BOG members must be hunters, even that they must be hunters who support pred-control, so right there you have complete bias introduced that favors hunters and hunting and predator control and the agendas of the governor and the lobbies/orgs pushing all this in the first place. I guess Bob doesn't recall why/how Pete Buist left the BOG...governor Murkowski basically trying to tell him how to vote. Let's not turn this mission political...pshaw.

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    Lightbulb de-politicize...

    Bushrat,

    I was not offended by what Bob Bell wrote. I was inspired to read his statement "Lets not turn this mission political...". While it may be impossible to be 100% objective, I felt his statement indicated his desire to keep the BOG as de-politicized as is humanly possible.

    So you believe that Mr. Bell and his BOG decisions are not as objective as is possible. Are you indicating that his decisions are not in the best interest, as far as is humanly possible, of our wildlife resources? Could you be less polictical than Mr. Bell if you were on the BOG? Would you be 100% objective with your decisions? I wonder if I could be objective and not be influenced with politics if I were on the BOG, but I know I would try.

    I absolutely do believe that both you and I could be, and would be much "less political" than a representative of DOW would be on our BOG. Again, I liked his mission statement and did not interpret any overt "doublespeak" language.

    Sincerely,

    Dennis
    AK TAGS

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    [quote=bushrat;419455]Until we de-politicize how the Board of Game members are chosen we are always going to have bias.

    Bushrat,
    Sorry but this isn't going to happen and shouldn't. Someone, hopefully someone who has been elected, needs to be held accountable for such influential appointments. These BOG members, whether we agree with them or not, our stewards of the resources that Alaskan's hold sacred, consumptive as well as non-consumptive users. If the Governor appoints someone to the board that does not meet the approval of the residents of this state we can register our displeasure at the ballot box.

    Everyone who expresses interest in these types of positions (BOG) has an agenda or a bias, to think otherwise is naive at best.

    You yourself co-chair an organization that professes to be moderate on the issues, but actively politically advocates an agenda that may be viewed quite differently by a great number of hunters and non-hunters alike.

    I have spent a great number of years both professionally (wildlife management, wildlife education, and conservation law enforcement) and as an avid enthusiast of all things wild, learning about wildlife, the outdoors, hunting and fishing etc . I have seen remarkable wildlife restoration projects, disasterous habitat modifications, misapplied statistical models, horribly inaccurate population estimates, incorrect predator impact data, etc, and all of this was done by professionals, noone is infallible. Everyone has a bias, activist, hunter, biologist and wildlife troopers alike, some are more informed than others, nobody has it 100% correct.

    As far as a nonconsumptive user being on the board, I strongly disagree, as stated before everyone has an agenda. Who would want to commit that much time and effort without having some goal in mind. I have had to deal with anti-hunters and so called moderate non-consumptive users on several committees, dealing with high profile wildlife related problems. It doesn't work.

    The ideal BOG member would be one who recognizes their biases and tries to keep their passions on these matters under control, when making the critical decisions that effect the citizens and wildlife of Alaska.
    My $.02





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    Ted, all good points (yours too, Dennis) but I really do think we would be better off long term if we did as some other states and changed the way BOG members were chosen...by having a bi-partisan committee (governor chooses committee members) pick potential members to then be confirmed (or not). As you know we don't always have a Murkowski or Palin in there; sometimes we have a Knowles. And down the line who knows who we could have as governor, but as long as the governor can completely politicize the process based on his or her own agenda we will continue to have these pendulum swings in mgmt strictly because of differing BOG membership and views. And it is those wide pendulum swings that really hurt good consistent and moderate mgmt and force us to extremes on either end. Yes, we can use the ballot box to vote in a new gov., but that doesn't prevent these pendulum swings.

    I really wouldn't mind if BOG was composed of experts in wildlife science and habitat, and there are plenty of bios who don't hunt but who aren't anti-hunting, so this whole issue of having just one non-consumptive user on the Board isn't something that necessarily scares me. How would it really be any different than what we see now when Ben may vote the opposite of the rest of the Board on some things? I'd wager, but don't know, that sometimes Grussendorf feels like a lone voice in the wilderness as a Board member <grin>.

    Agree no one is infallible and about the ideal BOG member being someone who can be objective and keep biases in check. And I see that among some members for the most part. And I respect all the BOG members even when I disagree with some of the votes; it's often a thankless task and involves a lot of work/time. Again, Bob oversimplified things...not everyone "hates" the BOG members; at close of my testimony last spring I flat-out told the Board how much our org appreciates what they do even when we don't always agree...people need to hear more folks say that so they don't make things personal and so they understand it's about the issue and not the people.

    I think most of us here would agree that it is important to have varying input/views on much of what BOG decides on. That it's important for there to be a Native member on the Board and that it's important that the Board also be composed of members from various locales around the state. So in that sense we're doing good in those respects with members from SE and southcentral and interior, new appointment of Hoffman, and I think it helps to make a more well-rounded Board. We don't need any anti-hunters on the BOG...would be ridiculous to choose one and would disqualify that person at confirmation anyway, but again, just because someone may not actually hunt shouldn't disqualify them right off from being chosen for Board membership. Their views will come out at confirmation hearings.

    Best to all,

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    Bell's article was straight across the board. He gets slammed for telling it like it is for himself,,,,, and the other BOG members, so far I haven't heard any one sitting at the BOG 'table' call him a lier or say "he doesn't speak for me".

    If you've been 'watching the game',, you know that when the people of Alaska voted, to allow aerial shooting, a BIG agenda was halted, and those people that crafted and put forth the FAILED initiative, had brown sludge running down their pant legs. They failed,, how could that have happened???

    Oh well, they DON'T quit,, sooo lets get a NON consumptive user on the BOG, someone that will 'represent' NON wild game food/eaters. Ironically, many of those pushing to have a NON consumptive BOG member, actually eat wild game.

    Now I'm wondering,,, first thing about this NON consumptive BOG member, , what gender would actually best serve the NON consumptive community???
    Hmmmm, this could present a problem,, would a NON consumptive woman tend to present and clarify problems and/or regulations, while using wild game in the field, in a typical NON consumptive manner,, better than a male??? Is it reasonable to assume a woman would be viewed as being more politically correct than a man?? Its been documented that NON consumptive outdoor field fashion, is owned by the female gender. Now with that in mind, I think we could see some loosening of the regulations of 'fair chase', and use of artificial light used by a NON consumptive BOG member in the field, completely engaged with Alaskan wild game animals in a totally NON consumptive way.

    Keep it in mind I'm just trying to show why a NON consumptive BOG member could possibly re-vamp the wild animals management system. No this is NOT rocket science, but having a NON consumptive BOG member would prove equal to it.

    Not having a proof reader available,, I don't feel the need to re-read what I have written........
    I am starting a draft now,,Alaska needs money to fund a study or studies to find out what gender a NON consumptive BOG should be before proceeding to appoint one. :; re> studies to be completed in less than 10 years <;;

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    Just a question? what is an EXPERT: someone that goes to school for 4 years, and a couple of years in the field, or someone that has lived out in the field for 40 years?

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    Default Not to be Nitpicky, Bushrat...

    But Pete did "leave" (ie. leaving for personal reasons) the BOG, he didn't get reappointed by Murkowski becuase of the Tok predator control vote...

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    Purpose of ADF&G: to provide good science (ie. size of populations, harvestable surplus, etc.)

    Purpose of BOG/BOF: to allocate that harvestable surplus among user groups

    Bob Bell had it completely wrong just like he has on many of his BOG votes. He really pissed all over himself on the western Chugach wolverine stuff.

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    Default wolverine

    Chisana,
    pls refresh my memory...how did he vote on the Chugach wolverine issue? And why, briefly, "in your opinion" was that not appropriate?

    (seeking your viewpoint-opinion-knowledge here....)

    Dennis

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlaskaTrueAdventure View Post
    how did he vote on the Chugach wolverine issue? And why, briefly, "in your opinion" was that not appropriate?
    Dennis - I know this wasn't directed at me, but if I may chime in briefly: Bell voted in favor of opening portions of Chugach State Park to wolverine trapping. The concern is that the ADF&G bio who weighed in on the testimony stated that there was not a harvestable surplus of wolverines, and that if multiple were taken that it could endanger the wolverine population of the park. I don't know enough to opine on whether this is an accurate position or not, but the concern is that Bell went directly against the available biological evidence in supporting this proposal.

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    Member Chisana's Avatar
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    Brian hit the nail on the head, but it is even worse. Bell reasoned that since he had never seen a wolverine in the area in question that there couldn't be many there and the chance of trapping one would be very low, so how could opening a season for them hurt?

    That is the most circular, assinine reasoning I have ever heard. If I recall correctly wolverine harvest did go up after this proposal was adopted, and ADF&Gs concern about dogs getting in to wolverine sets has been shown to be valid. All this was brought up in BOG testimony.

    Wolverines are notoriously tough to survey so with that knowledge and the ADF&G assessment that the population is small one would expect a prudent wildlife advocate as Bob claims to be to err on the side of caution. He threw caution to the wind and made a very risk prone vote when he voted to open Chugach State Park to wolverine trapping.

    I am pro trapping and my position is not about being opposed to trapping. It is about being opposed to this decision and others like it that the BOG has made.

    Here's an ADN article about the BOG action:

    http://dwb.adn.com/news/alaska/wildl...-8623579c.html

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    Default Thx

    Chisana, Brian...
    Thanks for the info update and explanation.....
    Dennis

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    Anyone with above average intelligence and a little desire to read between the lines should have seen that the "data" supposed biologist sinnott used to complain about wolverine trapping was 12YEARS OLD and of questionable value. It was an aerial survey done in mountainous, timbered terrain counting tracks in the snow. Geesh!
    If Bell's statement is correct then he was lax in his evaluation of the issue. His vote was 100% correct tho. If we erred on the side of caution everytime a bio with an agenda threw out worthless data we wouldn't be hunting.
    I'm sure it is ALWAYS the trappers fault when a dog gets in a trap snare!
    BoG appointments should have NOTHING to do with race. Familiarity with the laws, regs, and actual hunting/trapping experience would seem much more relavent to me.
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    Member Chisana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by martentrapper View Post
    If we erred on the side of caution everytime a bio with an agenda threw out worthless data we wouldn't be hunting.

    I'm sure it is ALWAYS the trappers fault when a dog gets in a trap snare!
    Why would Bob Bell's opinion on wolverine abundance in the park be better than survey data (albeit old) that was collected systematically and in a scientifically accepted manner? One could argue that Bob Bell had an agenda on this issue and that agenda was to give an eye gouge to folks who did not want to see wolverine trapping in the park.

    It may not be the trapper's fault that a dog gets caught, but if you increase trapping pressure in an area that already has a lot of other use then you will get more dogs caught in traps and have traps tampered with by antis. Regardless of who is at fault trappers will take the heat. We see it happen that way time and time again.

  20. #20

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    C'mon guys, is this real? I can completely sypathize with any argument that favors limited wolverine trapping in an area where domestic animals frequent. However, if anyone is trying to pin poor decision making on Mr. Bell for allowing wolverine to be trapped in the Chugach area then that is a real stretch. I'm sure that the wolverine population will regulate itself regarless of who decides to trap them. Sure, someone might reduce the number of wolverine in a given area but there isn't any way I can be convinced that they will be "trapped out" anywhere. They seem to have a pretty low density in any given area anyway (I would guess they don't even get along with each other normally) so once you get one or two (if you get really lucky!) then a trapper would be expending a whole bunch of effort for naught. These are tough critters that will live on wherever they can, mostly in places we can't or won't get to anyway. If you want to find fault with someone on the BOG there are a lot of more legitimate reasons that hold a lot more weight.

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