Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy Reopens Spring Bear Hunting Season for Residents
On Wednesday, SCI President Skold sent a formal letter to Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy, requesting that he work with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) to keep hunting season and public lands open. A considerable number of comments submitted through SCI’s HAAC echoed that same sentiment. But that same day the Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced they will be closing the spring bear season for both non-residents and residents, creating a considerable amount of backlash – especially amongst Alaskan residents who felt they could still hunt in a responsible and socially distant manner.
On Thursday evening, Governor Dunleavy rescinded ADFG’s decision and reopened spring bear season for Alaskan residents while maintaining the cancellation for non-residents or anyone from outside of the state.
“This decision further exemplifies Governor Dunleavy’s commitment to protecting the interests of Alaska’s hunting community,” said SCI’s Director of Government Affairs Ben Cassidy. “SCI was fortunate to have Governor Dunleavy attend the 2020 SCI Convention, and it was clear then that he genuinely cares about hunting and fishing issues. His decision to re-open spring bear hunting to Alaskan residents is something SCI is greatly appreciative of.”
In the midst of unprecedented circumstances, government officials and agencies are trying to decide the best courses of action for keeping the public safe. In many states, the Governors are issuing mandatory “stay-at-home” or “shelter-in-place’ orders with the exception of essential activities like grocery shopping, picking up prescriptions, or other life dependent errands. However, because of the positive physical and mental benefits time spent in nature, most of these executive orders provide exceptions for outdoor recreation as long as social distancing measures are still followed.
Hunting can be a fantastic way to enjoy the great outdoors in isolation. Shutting down certain hunting programs or facilities to prevent people from unnecessarily congregating or issuing travel restrictions for non-residents is understandable at this time, but the outright cancellation of hunting seasons all together would be concerning and unjust for millions of hunters across the country.
SCI is currently working with Governor’s offices and fish and wildlife agencies in all 50 states in hopes of ensuring that hunting seasons remain open and unaffected to the fullest extent possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. SCI also launched a grassroots campaign to help members of the hunting community contact their Governor’s to encourage them not to shut down spring hunting fishing seasons using the Hunter Advocacy Action Center (HAAC). If you haven’t made your voice heard yet, contact your Governor today!