On March 1, in response to Alaska losing its appeal of the threatened-species designation for polar bears, state Rep. Eric Feige said the federal government itself was responsible for the deaths of many bears.
“If the polar bear are so threatened, then why do we kill 10 percent of the ones we dart and tag for scientific and management purposes?” Feige said in prepared statement issued by the Alaska House majority press office.
“It comes from personal experience,” Feige said of his source. “Not direct personal experience, but I spend a lot of time flying around the state and I happen to know the guy that flies the Super Cub that does the polar surveys along the coast,” he said.
“The helicopter pilots are based out of Deadhorse and — lately it’s been R44s (a lightweight utility helicopter), couple of them, they have inflatable floats to get around and land on, occasionally the bears come into Deadhorse and chew on the floats and that causes great headaches for the pilots. It was conversations with those people, folks actually doing the surveys, that told me 10 percent died.”
“They dart the bear, anesthetize the bear, and in the process of doing that, 10 percent are fatal,” Feige said. “I talked to the person doing the work and that’s what they told me.”
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