Dunleavy Tells Fish & Game To Look Into Bringing Deer To Mat-Su

 Governor Mike Dunleavy Wants To Introduce Deer To The Matanuska-Susitna Borough To Help Hunters    Good Idea that didn't get very far. ...

 Governor Mike Dunleavy Wants To Introduce Deer To The Matanuska-Susitna Borough To Help Hunters  

Good Idea that didn't get very far. (1900 Photo) 

Governor Dunleavy Has An Idea...
In November 2021, in "an internal state report" quoted in the Anchorage Daily News, the state’s people learned that Alaska’s governor has a plan to help hunters. Governor Dunleavy's idea is to introduce "a huntable population" of Sitka black-tailed deer to his home community – the Mat-Su Borough.

According to the governor's office, "The creation of new hunting opportunities is a priority of the governor's." He has "directed his commissioners and other officials to look into a host of game enhancement opportunities, including the relocation of species for hunting."

Tinkering With The Wild
Introducing invasive species of plants and animals is something people love to do. It always sounds like a great idea at first. Then, quite often, things go terribly wrong.

But people persist in thinking that tinkering with the wild is a good concept, whether it works or not. 

Unexpected Consequences 
Decades ago the military brought caravans of cranky camels to California, to take advantage of their ability to live in conditions where drinking water was scarce.  They let the animals roam free when they turned out to be impossible to handle.  

Carp were dumped into the great rivers of the Lower 48, and now huge fish jump up out of the water and whack passing boaters on the head. 

Rabbits were introduced to Australia, where they multiplied like – well – like rabbits. Now rabbits run wild all over Australia, displacing that country's incredibly unique wildlife. 

Kudzu weed, introduced to feed cattle, strangles trees, houses, signs and old cars in the South, marching across the countryside like a leafy green version of The Blob, in a twisted science fiction movie. 

Wild pigs, weighing up to 600 lbs., started out pink and piggy and soupbone size, and burgeoned into monsters with tusks. Boars now rampage across the South, the West and even into Canada, tearing up everything they come across. 

In Alaska, grumpy musk ox were transplanted from Greenland to Nunivak Island. Before islanders came to an uneasy truce with them, musk ox terrorized the locals. Now islanders use musk ox wool to knit expensive tourist items and take hunters out onto pricy musk ox hunting trips. But it's taken a while.   

Tame reindeer were brought into western Alaska. A large herd of those reindeer was then marched over a thousand miles of trackless wilderness from the coast, with the deliberate intention of introducing them in Cantwell as a source of food for Fairbanks.The animals escaped and ran off with the Nelchina caribou herd. 

It usually goes that way. Wild animals don't become "tame." Tame animals, like pigs, dogs and reindeer, "go wild."  

Harnessing Nature 
One of the more interesting aspects about Alaska is that the only domesticated animal that was here when westerners arrived was the dog. 

But Americans love their other farm animals. During the Gold Rush, miners amused themselves by taking funny photographs of themselves and the wild animals they came across and wished they could domesticate. They harnessed moose and sheep as if they were horses and sled dogs and snapped photos. It was an early version of You Tube click bait. 

"You Can't Just Let Nature Run Wild”

- Wally Hickel 

Farming Moose
Dunleavy's plan is not so unusual. After all, the great Wally Hickel, also once an Alaskan governor, laid down a standard of thought when it comes to managing Alaska's wildlife that encourages creative intervention in game management. 

Hickel famously said, "You can't just let nature run wild." 

There's a lot of meat on a moose. In 1990, Hickel's Lt. Governor Jack Coghill  followed his boss's concept to its logical conclusion. Coghill managed to talk the Alaska State Senate into approving something pretty unlikely: moose farms. 

The idea behind Coghill's moose farming idea was a practical one. It's easier to shoot a farmed moose than to actually go "hunting." It would be such a simple thing.

It never happened. Just like it never happened that moose and sheep can be used to draw wagons and dog sleds. 


There's Always A Downside 
Meanwhile, of course, as in practically anything having to do with invasive species, there's already a looming problem with Dunleavy's deer idea. 

Wild Deer Get Covid-19 
In August of 2021, researchers found Covid in 40% of wild white-tailed deer that they sampled in four states – Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania and Michigan. And it's getting worse. By early November, 2021, over 80% of Iowa deer that were sampled were found to have the coronavirus. 




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