What others say: Alaskans should care about Cecil the Lion

  • Wednesday, August 19, 2015 8:40pm
  • Opinion

You didn’t care about Cecil the Lion two months ago. If you haven’t changed your mind, you should.

Not because of the lion itself, but because of what its death means.

The 13-year-old animal was a star attraction for Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, and its death at the hands of an American dentist who paid $50,000 for a hunt has spilled a pot of Internet outrage. The outrage has since congealed into obscurity the same way Kony 2012 and other ephemeral memes have, but it has had real effects.

Many airlines, including Delta, United and American wavered in the face of public pressure and banned the carriage of most African hunting trophies on their airplanes.

This will have little immediate effect — most hunters use expediting services and cargo airlines, not passenger jets, to carry their prizes — but we worry about the future.

Will airlines forbid you from carrying the Dall sheep you took in the Brooks Range? What about the mountain goat you took on Kodiak Island?

You may well have harvested the meat from those hunts, but under the rules of these airlines, you might be barred from carrying the hide or horns home. For now, the airlines’ bans extend to species hunted in Africa. Several have said they are looking at a wider prohibition.

Fortunately, Alaska Airlines hasn’t changed its policy. Hunters will still be able to travel in the 49th state without undue interference.

Most Alaska hunters aren’t seeking species like the dentist targeted by the Internet mob. They’re after food for the freezer, and that’s an admirable practice. According to figures from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, residents bought 87 percent of the hunting licenses sold in this state.

Look at the number of “big game” tags — the ones needed for trophy hunts — and you see the reverse. Seventy percent were sold to nonresidents.

Those nonresidents paid for the privilege: $500 or $650 for a grizzly bear tag, $425 or $550 for a sheep tag, and $225 or $300 for a black bear tag.

Those figures add up. In 2014, fees paid by nonresidents accounted for 82 percent of the state’s tag and license receipts.

Those receipts paid for game management and administration, and as the state slashes its budget, programs that pay for themselves are a good thing to have.

Residents enjoyed most of the hunting. Nonresidents paid most of the bills.

That’s why we worry when we see the outrage over Cecil. It may be a passing event, but its effect isn’t passing. We may declaim trophy hunting and shooting animals for sport, but we cannot deny its effect in Alaska. It pays the bills.

If Cecil’s death leads to a decline in trophy hunting in Alaska, all hunting will suffer.

— Juneau Empire, Aug. 13

More in Opinion

This July 16, 2019, file photo shows the Capitol Dome in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
Opinion: The Respect for Marriage Act represents a balanced approach

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has supported a “fairness for all” approach

Deven Mitchell greets his fellow members of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp.’s Board of Trustees at the start of his interview to be the APFC’s new executive director on Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Opinion: It’s an honor to now lead Alaska’s largest renewable resource

As a lifelong Alaskan, leading APFC is my childhood dream come true

t
Opinion: Freedom in the classroom sets precedence for the future

We advocate for the adoption of legislation to protect students’ First Amendment rights…

A roll of “I Voted” stickers await voters on Election Day in Alaska. Voters overwhelmingly rejected the prospect of a state constitutional convention. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Election winners, losers and poor losers

Tshibaka and Palin misread Alaskans by thinking Trump’s endorsement all but guaranteed they’d win.

This 1981 photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows an electron micrograph of Respiratory Syncytial Virus, also known as RSV. Children’s hospitals in parts of the country are seeing a distressing surge in RSV, a common respiratory illness that can cause severe breathing problems for babies. Cases fell dramatically two years ago as the pandemic shut down schools, day cares and businesses. Then, with restrictions easing, the summer of 2021 brought an alarming increase in what is normally a fall and winter virus. (CDC via AP)
Alaska Voices: What Alaskans need to know about RSV

By learning more about respiratory illnesses and taking helpful actions, we can all take steps to improve the situation

Homer Foundation
Point of View: Multiplying the power of every local dollar given

Each community foundation is a public charity that focuses on supporting a geographic area by pooling donations to meet community needs

The Homer Public Library as seen on Aug. 18, 2021, in Homer, Alaska. (File photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Point of View: Banning books corrodes diversity and inclusion in our community

Recently, a community member requested that a long list of books be removed from the children’s collection

Peninsula Oilers fans display encouragin signs for Oilers’ pitcher Bryan Woo, Friday, June 28, 2019, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)
Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Opinion: Judging judges — balancing the judicial selection process

Alaska’s method of selecting judges can be and should be improved.

Sarah Palin speaks at a July 11 Save America Rally featuring former President Donald Trump at Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: The realities of Palin’s political demise

Palin wouldn’t be running for the seat if Rep. Don Young was still alive

Former Democratic state Rep. Beth Kerttula holds up a sign reading “Vote No Con Con,” during a recent rally at the Dimond Courthouse Plaza in Juneau. Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: What can a liberal and conservative agree on? Voting against a constitutional convention

“We disagree on many issues. But we… urge Alaskans to vote against Proposition 1.”