Bears and health care and guns and coffee

There is, here in Alaska, a controversy about hunting regulations.  People in Alaska like to hunt.  Just ask Sarah  P.  She hunts whenever she can take time off from her grueling (and lucrative) schedule of Tea Bag speeches and Fox News interviews.  She is particularly fond of killing moose.   Many Alaskans hunt moose.  Some of those who hunt them, eat them.  My husband, Jerry, tells me that for a period of 6 years when he was a young man he ate only moose.  During the 6 month winter he kept the dead animal on the roof of the house he built on his homestead near Fairbanks.  When he needed meat he climbed up to the roof and sawed off a bit.

Joee, our neighbor across the street, bags one moose each year when hunting season opens, and that provides him and Pam with meat for a year.  The rest of their staple food comes from the salmon Joee fishes and the vegetables Pam grows in the summer.

So Alaskans care about moose.  They want lots of them.  When hunting season opens the Eliot Highway, the road to Manley, becomes alive with pick-ups pulling trailers piled with 4 wheelers.  Burly men in camouflage toting guns rumble off into the woods on their 4 wheelers in search of moose.

(I read the above to Jerry who wants me to add this:  In the 50’s there were about 100 thousand people in Alaska, today it is close to 700 thousand, most of whom live in the Anchorage area.  Villages are larger too, because diseases that decimated them earlier are now controlled.  The hunting pressure is much greater and will keep increasing.  If the population of Fairbanks reaches 1 million, (now it is around 80 thousand) the Eliot Highway will be gridlocked with 4 wheelers.)

Human hunters compete, or think they do, with animal predators.  Wolves certainly hunt moose.  And Pam and Joee assure me that black bears also have been seen following cow moose ready to calve, preying on the new-born calves.  Jerry, on the other hand, thinks that black bears are not a big factor in moose predation.  They are omnivores, and a big part of their diet is berries and other vegetation.  They also consume fish and small animals and carrion.

The Alaskan Fish and Game Department goes in for “predator control” in a big way.  These programs are supported by the citizens of Alaska who love their hunting and, to a limited extent, depend on it for food.  When I first came here there was a ballot initiative to allow the shooting of wolves from airplanes.  It passed.

This year there is a new regulation that permits the killing of bear cubs and sows accompanied by cubs.  This is said to be necessary for “predator control.”  It is fair to say that not all the people in Alaska agree with this policy.  I heard a long discussion about it on a radio call in program.  A biologist and wildlife expert explained that the decline in moose population was not really a result of over predation by wolves or bears, but of poor timber-land management and unfavorable weather for a couple of seasons.  Possibly the latter resulted from global warming.

The National Park Service has disagreed with the Alaska Fish and Game and has prohibited the killing of bear cubs and sows accompanied by cubs in national park lands.  They say that this regulation will endanger the bear population.  Alaskan officials are vocal in their indignation.  States rights, they say, are being infringed.  They say they hope they won’t have to sue for the right to kill baby bears.

Alaska is also suing for the right not to have health insurance.  The governor declares the choice is between health insurance and freedom.

Meanwhile, in Alaska as well as in the lower 48, militias are prospering.  The lady in the liquor store in Fairbanks who was ringing up our two week supply of wine was discussing the gathering of a militia group the night before in Fairbanks.  She said they were pretty well behaved; only a couple were arrested.  I asked her what the militias were in favor of and she said, “Well, you know, community feeling, and, of course, keeping the government in check.”

A militia group in Wisconsin gained high praise in the media because they turned in one of their members who was planning, with others, to kill a policeman and then to ambush his funeral and kill more policemen.

Finally, in the current scary silliness of the political landscape we have the so-called movement for the right of “open carry.” That is, there are lovers of guns who wish to go around with their guns showing.  In the touchy-feely world of California they seem to be particularly eager to display their guns in Starbucks, and Starbucks says it will let them.  I imagine one of these guys, in a militia uniform (probably camouflage with American flag patches), pearl handled pistol hung from his belt, swagger into Starbucks, stride up to the counter, and order a dark cherry frappuccino.

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18 Responses to Bears and health care and guns and coffee

  1. Sophia says:

    Oh my. People in B.C. loving hunting as well, but my dad, grandfather and brother all apply for a moose license each year and only a certain number are given out. It is highly regulated, not a free-for-all like the one you described.

    Nothing like a redneck bully who fancies himself a freedom fighter. I shake my head.

  2. Tabor says:

    Yes, we are heading backwards in terms of civilization. Soon a duel will once again be legal if both parties agree to it. I often wonder about the mind set of someone who thinks carrying a loaded weapon into a Starbucks says something about him. I just hope they all stay in Alaska and Texas.

  3. Lavenderbay says:

    Eeeks. Good thing I’m so unemployable; I’ll never be tempted to earn better money outside Canada.

  4. Dick says:

    Absolutely fascinating. Wolves watching the skies, freedom from the tyranny of health insurance and folksy, hip, rock’n’roll Starbucks okaying a skinny latte and a danish for a spiritual son of Hitler’s SA stormtroopers. Great days.

  5. Wanda says:

    Haven’t you just shot yourself in the foot? Do you antagonize your husband’s former friends and neighbors intentionally? How many conservatives show up on Lummie Island and malign the locals as you do the Alaskans? Those people are there for a reason… get away from people like you.

  6. wisewebwoman says:

    Here the same issues on today’s paper, Anne. It is the deforestration that no one wants to look at. You’d think that a policy of kill a tree plant a tree would be fairly easily legislated, wouldn’t you? But the lumber lobby is powerful and the politicos prefer to kill baby bears.
    Yeah, John Wayne sidling up to the barista and drawling “soya, ma’am” as he leans his thumb on his pistol is something we should all get used to in our neighbour down south?

  7. Kay Dennison says:

    Thank you for posting this — I learned a lot!!!

    The militias scare me!!!!! Sarah Palin scares me more!

  8. Mage B says:

    I see reactionary politics like this scaring me to death. I so agree with Kay.

  9. Hattie says:

    I can go right ahead and say I think those people are stupid a**holes.
    We’ve got our local variety, too. They want to live deliberately at taxpayers’ expense, just like Alaskans. For them it’s all about their rights; responsibility is always the task of the other guy.
    They remind me of Thoreau, who lived at Walden pond but would take his laundry home for his mother to wash. Watch how fast they line up for food stamps and Medicaid and show up at emergency rooms when their feckless ways get them into trouble.
    I think that a great udea would be to cut off all federal funds to Alaska and let them figure out how to get along without the help of the rest of America.

  10. Tessa says:

    Old Woman, may I suggest that you block Wanda? She is so tiresome.

  11. Wanda says:

    Now, now ladies. Relax. What would have to talk about….aside from the mundane, tuchy feely, liberal BS….if it were not for people like me? But, Delete if me you must, Old Woman, but I really do sense that you like me. Bye now. It was nice. See you at the polls, where I’ll cancel at least one vote. :o) Incidentally, I live in the only state of the 50, in which one can carry a concealed weapon without a permit. Go figure.

  12. Geezermom says:

    Uh..that militia group was from Michigan, not Wisconsin. Not that we don’t have our share of the nut jobs on this side of the pond too.

  13. Darlene says:

    Wanda, you must live in Arizona. Are you proud of that fact that you don’t need a permit? That means you no longer need a background check or the 24 hour training of how to use a gun that used to be on our books.

    Yep, I live in Arizona too and am scared to go anywhere if there might be a crowd or if liquor is served. We have our share of deranged people and it will take only one nut with his/her concealed weapon to pull it out and start firing if some liberal like me ticks him/her off.

  14. Duchess says:

    Well, if people are going to carry guns I would just as soon they did it openly. If there is someone in Starbucks with a gun, I want to know.

    In fact, a few years ago I was in a Starbucks somewhere in the US when a couple of cops came in. I couldn’t keep my eyes off their guns… and they didn’t make me feel safe. I’ve got used to the UK where even most policemen do not carry guns.

  15. Friko says:

    you are writing about a world which is totally alien to Europeans and very, very frightening.

  16. Laura Carr says:

    It is very alien to many of us who live in the US. And very very very frightening.


  17. What a fascinating post — and comments. It’s still the frontier there. If I had bears close around, I’d feel different about carrying guns.

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