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Commentaries and editorials

Redfish Lake and Alaska Bears

by Buck Wilde
Idaho Statesman, August 9, 2007

As we stage our 17th season of 'living with bears' in the Alaska wilderness, the situation with last dwindling wild salmon in Idaho seems so sad and quite unnecessary.

In Idaho, the sockeye smolts of Redfish Lake must navigate eight hydroelectric dams to reach the Pacific Ocean and then do it all over again as adults 'running' upstream and 'climbing' ladders. Here in Alaska, the streams continue to teem each summer 'chocked' full of reds on there way to spawning lakes.

Rivers are lined with hungry bears and sport fishermen side by side with the water boiling like a lake of red fish. Of course there's no aluminum refining industry or grain barges to support. Just a natural process of two super omnivores (human and ursus arctos) foraging and coexisting as they have here for 15,000 years.

In Idaho, it's not just the bears and the salmon who've lost out to big business. We are denied an opportunity to share in the abundance, to catch wild salmon beside the bears and revel in Nature's great wonders.

We can't travel along the headwaters of Idaho's Salmon River, or stand along an Alaska stream without being reminded of what we've lost in 'The River of No Return', or what we might gain by giving it back to the salmon, bears and people.

Buck Wilde, Scholastic Author, visits schools for "No Child Left Inside" programs.
Redfish Lake and Alaska Bears
Idaho Statesman, August 9, 2007

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