Elaina Spraker: Not so fast, Mr. Pettyjohn, on characterizing Safari Club International

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By ELAINA SPRAKER

As we enter into a prickly political season, campaign rhetoric will do its best to persistently persuade. It may be difficult to determine the truth in issues that are important to us. 

In a recent commentary penned by Fritz Pettyjohn, (Must Read Alaska, April 27, 2022), he labeled Safari Club International as a group of wealthy trophy hunters.

He further stated “the organization fears that under state ownership, residents would be given a preference in the taking of fish and game. As non-residents, their access could be restricted, so they lobby against any transfer to the states. Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr. is an active member of the Safari Club and was the keynote speaker at its 2020 convention. He has convinced his father to take the Safari Club’s side against the states.” 

Furthermore, he states an absurdity — that Sarah Palin is “perfectly positioned” to change former President Trump’s mind.

This example of deliberate gullibility is dangerous because it perpetuates a misrepresentation of an organization that has been on the frontlines for decades defending states’ rights, our hunting heritage, and access to federal public lands.

The State of Alaska would be quite a different place if SCI had not intervened in the many legal challenges where anti-hunters, extreme environmentalists, and career bureaucrats continually try to fulfill their utopian vision of turning Alaska into a the world’s largest park. There is no other conservation organization in the world that fights harder for our state to protect their authority to manage fish and wildlife, and leads the planet in conservation efforts.

Many Alaskans who are deeply involved in hunting belong to SCI as subsistence, personal use, and sport hunters. The president of the SCI Alaska chapter is John Sturgeon, whose landmark Supreme Court case upheld the State of Alaska’s authority on navigable waters and addressed federal overreach. 

The president of the SCI Kenai Chapter is Ted Spraker, a state career wildlife biologist and the longest serving member of the Alaska Board of Game, who spent most of his career battling federal overreach issues.

Longtime Kenai/Soldotna state advisory chairman, Mike Crawford, sits on the SCI national leadership board. The commissioner of ADF&G and director of Wildlife Conservation are past SCI board members.

The common denominator of all four of these individuals is SCI, also their lifelong dedication to the Alaska way of life and wildlife conservation.

The entire Alaska congressional delegation has a longstanding partnership with SCI in holding the federal government accountable for their statutory commitments to Alaska and Alaskans, fighting for access of federal public lands, management of fish and wildlife, and traditional activities. In 2018, the SCI national organization awarded U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan with the prestigious Legislator of the Year Award for his outstanding commitment to Alaska in his efforts to overturn the Obama-era rules that would have diminished the State of Alaska’s authority to manage its own fish and wildlife. The late Congressman Don Young would attend the SCI national convention regularly and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who sits on the Senate Resource Committee, works closely with SCI on states’ rights issues.

Today we are faced with the Federal Subsistence Board, a group of unelected bureaucrats systematically shutting down millions of acres of federal public lands in Alaska, to both rural and non-rural Alaskans and non-resident hunters, threatening Alaskans lifestyle and food sustenance. And guess who’s on the frontline fighting this issue alongside the State? SCI.

Not only is Fritz Pettyjohn’s article uninformed, it also lacks a complete understanding of the historical context in ANSCA and ANICLA. And while I agree with Mr. Pettyjohn that the federal government has not honored many of these commitments under ANSCA, ANICLA and the Statehood Compact, federal land management agencies have repeatedly and systematically disregarded the law and dismissed most of these promises. It took three very seasoned lawmakers – Sens. Ted Stevens and Mike Gravel, and Congressman Young – to prevent the land-grabbing bureaucrats and environmentalists from getting complete federal control of Alaska when ANILCA was being ratified.  

One conversation between former President Trump and former Gov. Palin will have no impact on, or transfer federal lands to the State of Alaska. That would take an act of Congress and then some.

Elaina Spraker is an Alaskan hunter, conservationist, NRA instructor, and member of Safari Club International.

27 COMMENTS

  1. You have to understand where Fritz is coming from. He’s old school legislature. From the 80’s and beyond. He’s not Establishment, but he looks at the Legislature as a crony club to which he belonged decades ago.
    .
    Trump Jr. uses the fly-in fishing and hunting lodges out in western Alaska as a playground for himself. He was no supporter of the proposed gold mine, in fact, he openly opposed it. Trump Sr. concurred. Trumps have no real local knowledge of how Alaska resource development has divided this state. What Fritz was opining was that Palin might be the best congressperson to influence Trump on federal land issues most favorable to the state. He wrote a pretty good piece, but I’m still backing Begich and not Palin.

  2. I don’t know if I would advertise “NRA Instructor” with 2A and hunting rights. The NRA is a bloated bureaucracy that serves only itself, they have very little to do with actually preserving the 2A. Now if it read “member of Gun Owners of America and Firearms Policy Coalition” that would be someone whose opinion I respect.

    • CKBBI- your comment fits in perfectly with the uninformed. Elaina has trained over 1000 Alaska women and adolescents in the Women on Target/Teens on Target clinics she organizes. She writes grants every year, the funds come directly from Friends of the NRA and SCI. The most powerful way we can preserve our 2A starts at home with our mothers and daughters. How many women has Gun Owners trained?

      • I am very well informed about the NRA and their lack of drive to protect the 2A. They would rather spend millions of dollars on lavish conferences, $3K suits for their board members and private jet flights to overseas locations. They will always be the first “gun rights” organization to negotiate with the government rather than calling them out on their blatant dishonesty as to the true purpose of the Second Amendment. Training gun owners to follow the guidance of the NRA is hypocrisy at its finest.

  3. Safari Club has long supported Alaska’s hunters and trappers and fought federal overreach. They put their money where their mouth is.

    • I worry more about State overreach. I’ve tried to get a modest sensible trapping setback proposal on the Board of Game agenda, but they won’t hear it. The board doesn’t accurately represent Alaskans, the majority of whom think trophy hunting and trapping are despicable hobbies.

      • No, Jeff, the majority of Alaskans don’t think trapping is a “despicable hobby”. Maybe the majority of leftists in Anchorage…….

      • All proposals get on the Board of Game agenda and they are all heard. The Board of Game heard trap setback proposals at the January 2022 meeting.

    • True and they also fight against every construction project that would put lots of people to work, not just Pebble. I’m sorry but I do not support them, they are wolves is sheepskin clothing.

  4. Why should We the People trust and support a Deep State organization like SCI? Your board, as you proudly proclaim, is full of formerly un-elected bureaucrats! Showing your unflinching support for the likes of Murkowski and Sullivan lay clear SCI is another traitorous group obfuscating to draw on support of the RINOs.

  5. ANCSA not ANSCA

    Well said. Ted Spraker has been a hero to wildlife and wildlife management for over 30 years.

  6. Safari Club has influence. Their lobbying efforts are partly responsible for a Board of Game composed of trappers, hunters and hunting guides. No conservationists. Pettyjohn is right; SC is all about catering to rich, vain trophy hunters.

    • Such a line of bull! Gunter Thompsom Do you have any idea how much SCI does right here in Alaska? Ask yourself which nonprofit contributed more than any other organization to the reintroduction of the wood bison.
      We support wounded warrior, youth outdoor recreation, becoming an outdoors woman, high school archery and shooting teams and a hell of a lot more! We donate to food banks and support our communities right here in Alaska!
      What have you done my friend?

      • All those good things have a purpose: to train people to kill. I shoot my wildlife with a camera and I wish more did too.

        What have I done? I started two conservation organizations, I’m a member of a State Parks Advisory Committee, I am active in three local non-profits and financially support a dozen more, I started a pet advocacy non profit in 1994, I pick up trash at campgrounds and I don’t torture wildlife.

        • Millions of kids are starving around the world. They would love a pet dinner. But loons take their pets to spas here…..and feed them expensive food!

  7. When the National Academy of Science- National Research Council- looked at Alaska’s insanely expensive predator management programs they found, “all previous predator reduction and control operations in Alaska were so poorly designed that the results, even if they had been adequately monitored, could not have assessed the relative contributions of various factors to any observed changes in populations of either predators or their prey.”

    Alaska has spent upwards of tens of thousands of dollars to kill a single wolf under these badly managed programs- that’s public money- to benefit the elites from outside that see our wildlife as “trophy animals”.

    These insane and expensive wars on our wildlife, like our bears- that have low densities, and low reproduction rates- ensures that when you have high harvest rates that you could end up with extinctions. This is what California did for decades until the only Grizzly bear left in California was on their state flag.

    • M, please cite an example of threatened Bear Populatons in Alaska? Can’t do it?
      I thought so.
      You new to the country?

      • Puk, that’s easy. Polar bears are listed as threatened under the ESA.

        Scientists who have studied grizzly populations have concluded that these animals are very difficult to count. Using hair traps and DNA testing as the last, best resort one study estimated there were about 600 bears on the entire Kenai Peninsula.

        Population densities are less in the Interior where winters are long, and food is less energy dense- think berries and not Salmon. Grizzly- cub mortality can be 65 percent.

        In my nearly half century observing wildlife in Alaska my personal observation is that its very, very difficult to see grizzly bears in the Interior, with the exception of Denali. If I go down into Canada (Yukon) I see a heck of a lot more bears.

        Bottom line- the insanely expensive, poorly designed predator killing operations that ADFG come up need to end. They are not backed up by real science, and they are gambling with the long term health of these populations.

    • Species come and go…..humans and animal predators don’t mix and don’t use the lame bio-diversity LIE.

  8. Well said, Elaina. SCI was instrumental in helping defeat the OETA and HSUS attempt at ballot box biology some years ago. That’s when I first became a member.

  9. “…to benefit the elites from outside that see our wildlife as “trophy animals”.”

    We’ve all heard the false narrative M.

    Yet if one actually goes to a Board of Game meeting what they will see are rural villagers discussing local predator issues. Average every day folks, not elites.

    • What you’ll see at most rural BOG and AC meetings are locals demanding the State “do something” about predators in their local area. Predator seasons and bag limits are almost non-existent in most of rural Alaska. Maybe the locals should get off their butts and deal with predator problems themselves. Politic-driven wildlife management isn’t good management.

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