Alaska –-(Ammoland.com)- An Alaska man says he feels lucky to be alive after coming face-to-face with a brown bear and surviving its terrifying attack.
Kenny Steck, his wife Hannah and six family members were hiking in Southeastern Alaska May 13 when he encountered the predator while filling up water bottles. Steck, an experienced outdoorsman, had left his bear repellent back at camp. The massive animal then came charging at him.
“It was a feeling of complete hopelessness and helplessness, really. I felt like I couldn't do anything to make it stop or make the outcome change,” he told ABC News today.
Kenny Steck’s story is unfortunately all too common in Alaska, and many of these stories don’t end in a survivor’s tale.
Interactions between predators and humans are a way of life in Alaska. Larger in number, but often unseen by humans, are the daily interactions between predators and prey.
Ecosystems demand balance and the more man tries to manage that balance, the more man needs to control that balance. In other words, when man intervenes to protect certain species and habitat, it requires more active management of other species. In Alaska, predator control programs are designed to reduce predation by apex predators such as wolves and bears. State law requires wildlife management agencies in Alaska to maintain populations of moose, caribou, and deer that are a needed food source for Alaskans.
This is nothing new. Wildlife management principles are at work right now in every state in our country. Deer populations have to be managed to reduce Lyme disease, vehicle collisions, and damage to agriculture. Few realize the contributions that hunters make by gladly paying license and permit fees to serve as population control agents under state management and regulation.
And the beneficial effects of wildlife management are not limited to rural areas. Excess deer populations in suburban areas put too much pressure on natural sources of food, leading to starvation in the herd. Excessive populations of geese can menace children in parks and create unsanitary conditions with their droppings — nearly a pound per bird per day. That’s why suburban Maryland park authorities recently euthanized more than 300 geese, and donated the meat to shelters for the homeless. The science behind wildlife management is at work in all of our communities.
But Alaska is unlike the rest of our country. Beyond its few cities, the land and conditions are severe, and mere survival requires effort and resources well beyond what most residents of the lower 48 could summon. For those who find themselves in circumstances beyond their survival skills, help is often hours away – if it can be summoned at all.
That’s why it’s shocking that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has recently decided to approve new, unprecedented regulations that ban nearly all predator management on national wildlife refuges in Alaska. Going into effect on September 4, 2016, these new rules limit or prohibit hunting practices related to predators (wolves and bears), directly conflicting with Alaska state regulations that dictate these practices. The new FWS rules closely resemble regulations adopted last year by the National Park Service for hunting on National Preserves in Alaska.
This is the most recent example in a long-standing pattern of federal overreach. Out-of-touch federal bureaucrats have spent the years of the Obama Administration handing down mandates to dictate how Alaskans should manage Alaskan wildlife. The FWS is calling the new mandate a “natural diversity” principle of wildlife management, but make no mistake, the negative impact of this method is enormous. It allows no action by Alaskan officials to prevent a predator population from overwhelming a prey population living on Refuge land. By corollary, humans will also be at risk from excessive predator populations that overwhelm the carrying capacity of the land and seek out new territory in closer proximity to humans.
In announcing the new rules, FWS Director Dan Ashe proclaimed, “[O]ver the past several years, the Alaska Board of Game has unleashed a withering attack on bears and wolves that is wholly at odds with America’s long tradition of ethical, sportsmanlike, fair-chase hunting, in something they call “intensive predator management.”
Ashe’s claim that Alaska is attacking bears and wolves is ridiculous, as the state seeks only to protect its people and its wildlife through balanced wildlife management. Ashe also directly targeted hunting advocacy groups like ours who have long supported sustainable, balanced wildlife management practices.
Alaskans require an intense management of predators to protect their people and other wildlife. But unfortunately far away bureaucrats have decided to supersede their discretion. And after September 4 the people of Alaska will be at greater hazard, much like Kenny Steck's family, by decisions made in Washington, DC.
About Safari Club International:
Safari Club International – First For Hunters is the leader in protecting the freedom to hunt and in promoting wildlife conservation worldwide. SCI’s approximately 200 Chapters represent all 50 of the United States as well as 106 other countries. SCI’s proactive leadership in a host of cooperative wildlife conservation, outdoor education and humanitarian programs, with the SCI Foundation and other conservation groups, research institutions and government agencies, empowers sportsmen to be contributing community members and participants in sound wildlife management and conservation.
Visit the home page www.SafariClub.org, or call (520) 620-1220 for more information.