The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has been busy again this past week issuing news releases and social media articles. On April 9, the department reminded folks that bears are starting to emerge from their winter hibernations and will be looking for something to eat.
The news release suggested that people clean up things in their yards and around their homes which might attract a hungry bear. Some of these items are bird feeders, BBQs, pet feeding areas, garbage collection areas, outdoor freezers, etc. They recommend that the areas be cleaned up and items (pet feeding stations or garbage) be relocated into a secure location like a shed or home entry way. The idea is to reduce or eliminate temptation for a bear which might then, necessarily, be put down for safety reasons.
If you’ve been out riding your snowmachine or hiking some of the more remote trails, you might have noticed sign that bears are coming out. I’m sure some of the bear baiting hunters have already begun their activities. It’s still early but be watching. An unexpected bear encounter when out enjoying our early spring is potentially even worse that a grouchy moose!
The next release touches on a pet peeve of mine. I’ll explain. The sport fish release states that sport and subsistence fishing will remain open through the 2020 season. However, all the health mandates like spacing, wearing masks, and restricted instate travel must still be observed. They recommend you keep your fishing trips as close to home as possible to avoid traveling between communities.
This release was meant to inform the public that sport and subsistence fishing was not being restricted other than by statewide health mandates. Other states have banned sport fishing altogether and have been arresting folks caught doing it, even if they are observing distancing, masks, and local travel concerns.
Now for my pet peeve. When I saw the posting of this release on social media, I noticed a lot of comments to the effect: “They can’t stop me from fishing!” or “Who do they think they are?” These people apparently didn’t take the time to read the release — they jumped to the conclusion that ADF&G was somehow banning a fun outdoor activity. The state health mandates were not issued by Fish and Game. The department was simply reminding folks that they needed to be mindful of these mandates if they choose to go sport fishing.
Members of the public got up-in-arms over the original ADF&G news release about closing bear hunting for the 2020 season, too. The release that really got me, though, was the Mat-Su Borough proposed regulation of new public shooting ranges a while back. Hundreds of people demonstrated in front of the borough building telling the borough folks that they had no right to take away personal firearms. What???
Again, someone on social media got the “banning firearms” rumor started, and it went from there. I read the proposed regulations and while I don’t necessarily agree with all of it, I knew for a fact that there was no attempt to ban firearms.
Being aware of what your local and state governments are doing is a good thing and is to be strongly encouraged. Making your collective voices heard if there is a disagreement on policy is good also. But please know what it is you are objecting to before you raise a big stink! Don’t rely on social media or “Charlie” down at the local bar to be your source of information. Read the actual news release or issued document to learn exactly what it is saying. Then react in whatever manner you see fit, legally, of course.
If you’re a trapper or furbearing hunter, ADF&G has a news release for you also. Quoting, “Trappers and hunters will have additional time this spring to have furs sealed. Harvested furbearers, including marten, fisher, lynx, beaver, otter, wolf and wolverine have sealing requirements. These species are required to have a seal affixed to the hide by an authorized ADF&G representative, and other information about the harvest is collected.”
Continuing, “Governor Dunleavy suspended regulatory requirements to seal furbearers effective April 9, 2020. The suspension is in effect through May 11, 2020. All furbearers must be sealed no later than June 10, 2020; however, for seasons that end May 12 or later, furs must be sealed within 30 days of season end.”
Over the last two weeks, we’ve mentioned hunting, sport fishing, trapping, and subsistence news releases. Commercial fishing is still under discussion.