The Alaskan wilderness

The Alaskan wilderness

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The Alaskan wilderness is one of the most controversial topics discussed in the United States today. There are many different opinions and regulations pertaining to certain topics affecting the natural landscape of Alaska. One such topic is hunting for brown bear. While these massive animals face no current danger of being wiped out as a result of hunting, it is still a controversial and constantly debated issue. Over ninety-five percent of the United States’ brown bear resides in Alaska. Brown bears are one of the more appealing attractions for visitors to Alaska. According to the Alaskan Outdoor Journal, there are places all throughout Alaska that are designated brown bear viewing areas (Alaska Outdoor Journal, 2010). However many who come to Alaska for the brown bear don’t simply come to observe. Instead, they come for the hunt. These animals are constantly hunted for sport, and since they reproduce at a very low rate, this has the potential to jeopardize the total population of the brown bear. Overall, I believe that brown bear hunting should remain legal.
According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the brown bear is located all throughout Alaska, mostly in areas that allow them to seasonally hunt salmon (Alaska Fish & Game, 2010). This allows them to become larger and live in higher concentrations than the grizzly bear. The traditional brown bear and the grizzly bear are actually both classified as brown bears, despite having several differences in appearance. Brown bears are one of the most fascinating and powerful species in the Alaskan wilderness. Cubs are usually born during January or February, usually in groups of one to four (Alaska Fish & Game). A fully grown, male brown bear can weigh up for 1,500 pounds and be over 10 feet in stature (Alaska Fish & Game, 2010). Brown bears also have the ability to run at speeds up to 40 mph for short bursts of time (Alaska Fish & Game). All of these unique characteristics make many people upset that it is legal to hunt them. There are several groups that are working to conserve the brown bear population, particularly in Alaska, such as The Northern Forum’s Brown Bear Working Group (Fish & Wildlife Journal, 2010). The bear population in Alaska is thriving and is classified as a status of least concern, by the IUCN Red List (IUCN, 2010). Overall, the brown bear population faces no danger whatsoever.

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Brown bear hunting in Alaska has been an extremely popular attraction for visitors and residents of the State for many years. The Alaska Arctic North Guides is an organization that has taken groups out on guided brown bear hunts since 1985 (Alaska Trophy Adventures, 2009). However brown bear hunting is a very expensive hobby. A 10-day guided brown bear hunt cost $14,500 in May 2009 (Alaska Trophy Adventures, 2009). This fee is on top of the necessary hunting equipment, and a state-mandated hunting license that must be purchased (Alaska Fish & Game, 2010). These expenses make it financially impossible for many people to participate in these hunts. This helps ensure that they are not over-hunted. There are also several regulations in place that protect the brown bear population. Only the male brown bears are eligible to be hunted, and each licensed hunter is only allowed one bear per four regulatory hunting years (Alaska Fish & Game, 2010). Excluding the female bears from legal hunting protects the amount of female bears able to produce cubs, and maintains a steady population. All of these regulations are put in place to make sure that the brown bear population continues to thrive.
Another concern pertaining brown bear hunting is the danger it poses to those who participate. There is an average of two fatal bear attacks in North America per year, usually in Alaska (UDAP, 2010). There are also many injuries that result from attacks. As was previously stated, brown bears can grow up to 1,500 pounds and sprint up to 40 miles per hour. Being attacked by one of these animals would almost certainly result in a very violent and unpleasant death for the individual who is attacked. One of the main causes of bear attacks is when a bear is surprised or startled (UDAP, 2010). Hunters seek to surprise bears and shoot them. However if they are unsuccessful, they are in extreme danger of being attacked.
Despite the arguments against brown bear hunting, it is my opinion that there are enough restrictions and regulations that protect the brown bear population in Alaska. The brown bear is not a threatened species, and the regulations prevent them from becoming so. It is also my opinion that any individual who is brave enough to hunt a creature that usually weighs over 1,000 pounds, deserves to have the opportunity to experience this thrill. Brown bear hunting may be a debatable issue, but it is my belief that it should continue to be allowed.

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