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Alaska Superior Court Sides With State of Alaska Board of Game Upholding Internationally Renowned Kodiak Brown Bear Management System


Contact: Deb Moore
APHA Executive Director
907-929-0619 or deb@alaskaprohunter.org

ANCHORAGE, June 1, 2022— Today the Alaska Professional Hunters Association (APHA) reacts to the Alaska Superior Court supporting wildlife conservation in issuing summary judgement in favor of the Alaska Board of Game.
 
On December 23rd, 2020, Robert Cassell filed suit on constitutional grounds against the Alaska Board of Game claiming resident hunters are required to have access to (i.e., a chance to win) 100% of the permits for all brown bear hunting opportunities. Cassell’s lawsuit seeks to strike down Kodiak’s carefully developed and implemented brown bear management plan. Nonresidents are required to hire a guide or hunt with a close relative to hunt brown bears in Alaska.
 
In territorial days cattle ranchers on Kodiak proposed extirpating brown bears on Kodiak to protect and increase a nascent cattle ranching industry. Hunting guides at the time fought hard to protect Kodiak’s large bears and ultimately prevailed by showing Kodiak bears were ten times more valuable than cows. Since that time Hunting guides on Kodiak have worked to protect and conserve bears on the island. In 1976 the current management plan was adopted by the board of game. Kodiak’s bear management system is held up as a success story by wildlife managers from across the country and the world.
 
Sam Rohrer, president of the APHA is a second-generation hunting guide and a native of Kodiak, responds to the Superior Court decision: 
 
“Growing up I listened to my dad and the other hunting guides discuss the health of bears on the island in hunting camp and between seasons in town. I started to attend public meetings as a young boy where the guides and others weighed in on how the bears were doing and how best to manage hunting and problem bears. Today’s decision from the court affirms the public’s work but most importantly it is a win for the bears”. 
 
APHA filed briefs in support of the Board of Game and participated in oral arguments in December of 2021.  The Alaska Outdoor Council and Safari Club International also filed briefs in support of the Board of Game. The advocacy group Resident Hunters of Alaska supported Mr. Cassell where he sits as a board member. 
 
Sam continues; “APHA represents guides across the state but there was never any hesitation to support APHA defending Kodiak bears, this case is a matter of principle. Wildlife conservation is a core value of APHA’s because it is a core value of hunting guides across Alaska. But this is bigger than guiding, wildlife conservation is a core value of hunters who place sustainability above allocation as shown by the broad coalition APHA is a part of.” 
 
Mr. Cassell may appeal his case to the Alaska Supreme Court. Mr. Cassell is a retired dentist who is well known in hunting circles having travelled the world hunting. 
 
According to research commissioned by APHA, 86% of hunting guide business in Alaska are Alaskan owned with 95% of guide businesses on Kodiak being Alaskan owned. Many Kodiak hunting guides also guide wildlife viewing and photography trips during the summer.

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