An outfitter whose clients at close range gunned down brown bears in Katmai National Preserve contends the hunt is not akin to "shooting fish in a barrel." And Jim Hamilton, who owns True North Adventures, claims those who filmed portions of the hunt ruined the hunters' experience.
"There are no mechanized vehicles used to locate or stalk animals, they are not fenced or held captive by any unnatural means," Mr. Hamilton said in a written statement he sent to KTUU TV.
The outfitter went on to say Monday, the first day of the fall hunt in Katmai National Preserve, was a "very sad day ... (the) hunters were participating in a perfectly legal hunt (and) had their entire experience ruined by others who chose to use illegal methods to harass and interfere with their hunt."
But Sean Farley, the regional biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game who's responsible for the area where the hunt was conducted, agreed Friday that the hunt is "not fair chase."
"I feel personally remiss as the regional biologist that I haven't thought it out that this is what's going on out there," Farley told the Anchorage Daily News. "Not until I saw the video did I realize how bad it is. It's not appropriate."
Park Service officials, meanwhile, say the hunts are not threatening the Preserve's bear population.
"In recent surveys in August, we counted 330 bears in the preserve -- about a bear every square mile -- and that's a high density of bears," John Quinley, the agency's spokesman in Alaska, told KTUU. "That's what the law requires. Our management aims are for a high density of bears and we think we are achieving that."
But among the questions that need to be addressed is whether a healthy population justifies what has turned out to be a slaughter of arguably habituated animals taken only for their hides and skulls, not for subsistence.
You can find more coverage of this story here.