Alaska Fish & Wildlife News
May 2005

Alaska’s Fish and Wildlife Represent its Soul

By ADF&G Commissioner McKie Campbell
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McKie Campbell (right) and Chuck Meacham with a collection of newspaper articles detailing fish and game issues dating back to statehood.

In Alaska, fish and wildlife are intensely important to us, and because of outstanding management since statehood, are abundant throughout our state, even in our urban areas. Everyday I watch eagles outside my office window and a couple of weeks ago I looked up from my desk to see a pack of orcas swimming up Gastineau Channel. It is a rare resident of Anchorage who doesn’t have stories of moose in their yard. In downtown Juneau, the trash containers are of heavy gauge steel with special latches to discourage bears from wandering down among the tourists. Throughout Alaska, a very large segment of the population eats the ultimate organic food, wild fish and game, on a regular basis.

I’ve always believed that Alaska’s fish and wildlife represent its soul. As beautiful as our scenery is, few folks would be interested in visiting Alaska if it were not for our wildlife. Many Alaskans speak of their “way of life” that is dependent on harvesting fish and game. Alaska is home to the world’s greatest wealth of wild and abundant, living resources. This is profoundly humbling for those of us at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game who are responsible for the resources’ sustainable management.

After a ten-year stint working as a resource consultant, I’m excited to be back with the department. Not long after my first day back, I was thinking about the fact that many of the issues that were hot when I left the department are still sizzling on the front burner. The following day, Chuck Meacham, whom I had served with as a Deputy Commissioner, brought in two scrapbooks of Alaska newspaper headlines about fish and game issues dating from statehood. They were fascinating to browse through and underscored that many of the issues were the same even back then.

Issues like these continue to hit today’s headlines. In fact, a read through any Alaska newspaper will quickly reveal that fish and wildlife issues affect Alaska in a way different from any other state. I’ve always believed that because fish and wildlife are so much more important to Alaskans than they are to residents of any other state, by orders of magnitude, it naturally follows that we should strive to have the best fish and wildlife management agency in the country.

These resources are a principal economic engine for our state with ADF&G operating as the central fueling and servicing network for that engine. The mechanics of sustainably managing productive fisheries and wildlife abundance translates into dependable jobs for Alaskans, revenue for communities large and small, and a healthy robust statewide economy.

Together – working with the Board of Game and the Board of Fisheries and Alaskans throughout our state who use, care about, and in many cases, depend on our wild resources – we can enjoy, use, and sustain Alaska’s fish and wildlife.

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