I have issues with PEER

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Posted by Ballpark Frank ( on 12:07:24 10/29/16

In Reply to: Hunting in Denali posted by DG


Based on its track record, I see PEER as a bit more extreme in its views than what is justified by facts. I see them as somewhat analogous to Sea Shepherd vs. GreenPeace back in the day, or to place it in a Yellowstone context, compared to the efforts of groups like the Greater Yellowstone Coalition.

PEER took a meat ax approach to the issue of wireless communication networks in our national parks, sued in federal court, and forced what I believe to be ridiculous rules that jeopardize public safety. I'm sorry, but I see their overly idealistic approach a bit like the railings of the Flat Earth Society, that argued that the Earth was not round, until having to stare reality in the face once overwhelming scientific evidence proved them wrong. The fact is that over the years, I was able to report drunk drivers, reckless drivers, auto accidents, and a plethora of rescue situations in Yellowstone, thanks to my cell phone. The few times I did not have cell signal in the face of imminent danger to one or more park visitors, mitigating that danger put other lives at risk. I may be more sensitive to this circumstance due to my history with supporting public safety communications occupationally, having been a first responder, and being privy to some of the inside story on how PEER's lawsuit complicated matters in Yellowstone. We have a somewhat similar situation right now in Alaska with Iditarod purists and Iditarod pragmatists battling it out over the use of 2-way communications devices during the race. In last year's race, several participants, and their dogs, were placed in severe jeopardy by renegade snowmachiners at one particular location in the middle of the night.

Back to Denali, there are several serious issues in Denali that need to be addressed before ANYONE will ever get something done about PEER's overarching issue. (They simply don't believe in incremental progress. They want it all, and they want it NOW!) There is a crying need to have that ridiculous finger of land in the Stampede area included in the park. It not only creates problems for wildlife management and human safety, it contributes to the serial psychodrama where dreamy-eyed, ill-equipped people try to visit the bus where Chris McCandless starved to death.

The other critical issue is the decimation of the park's wolf population due to "subsistence" hunting along the boundary. The hunting community and the State of Alaska have been notoriously unhelpful in addressing this issue. In recent years, intelligent people have started arguing the more powerful, cater to self interest argument of economic damage, because over time, tourists have become progressively less likely to see wolves in Denali. The stats don't lie. This is a good argument in my estimation, and if the global price of oil stays low, eventually, the State of Alaska will value the tourist dollar more than it does today.

I know from my own wandering around Denali that it is a tough place for certain critters to make a living. It reminds me of Rocky Mountain National Park, and its relative lack of black bears, due to its high elevation and lack of food. At the same time, I see plenty of dall sheep when I get out in the Denali backcountry. PEER's argument that the hunting outside the boundary is going to cause "irreparable harm" just pours fuel on the ongoing fire in Alaska about issues like "federal overreach" and outsiders telling Alaska what to do.

I see PEER a bit like the guy who shows up at a winter slide off, and gives everyone advice on how to get the vehicle back on the road, but refuses to get down in the snow and help push. We could really use their help on the Stampede issue or the wolf issue, but they would rather take their typical "all or nothing" stance.


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