The hunters

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game was on Monday actively moving to quash any rumors of favoritism in the award of a grizzly bear hunting permit to Donald Trump Jr., the 42-year-old elder son of the President of the United States.

Trump Jr., an avid hunter, won the permit to hunt the Seward Peninsula in Northwest Alaska by entering a December drawing the results of which became available online Friday.

The random, computer-generated lottery has been the source of some controversy over the years with unsuccessful hunters, especially resident hunters, suspicious of state employees who draw permits or high-profile hunters who draw multiple permits.

Some of the permits – particularly those for bison, coastal brown bears and Dall sheep – are highly coveted, and the results of the draw are closely watched by thousands of Alaska hunters. Thus it didn’t take long for someone to spot the name of one “Trump, Donald” from New York, NY on the list of permit winners.

The Alaska Landmine was the first to report that on Friday, Tweeting that “our hunting friends informed us that this is an expensive hunt, and there is almost always less applicants than tags available.”

The latter claim was, in the case of this particular hunt, inaccurate, but the first was wholly true.

All nonresident, grizzly hunters in Alaska are required by law to hire an Alaska big game guide, and they don’t come cheap. Two reliable sources said Trump is planning a spring hunt with Tom Gray, owner of Alaska NW Adventures in Nome, a Bering Sea coast community on the west end of the Seward Peninsula. 

Gray charges $15,500 for a seven-day hunt based out of the remote villages of White Mountain or Council.

Reached by phone in Nome on Monday, he refused to say if Trump was a client or not.

“You need to call Donald Trump and talk to him,” he said. “Everyone’s got a lot of gossip flying around.”

Gray sounded afraid to talk to a reporter, which is understandable. Most of them don’t hunt, and any story involving a Trump is in these days explosive.

News, news, news

The Trump-hunt story is now bouncing around the internet like a pinball with the inevitable strange ricochets.

Donald Trump Jr. one of only 3 people who wants to legally kill an Alaskan grizzly bear this year,” headlined Raw Story.

Alaska state records indicate a kill of about 1,500 brown/grizzly bears per year in the 49th state, and the number of hunters engaging in trying to make a kill is many times that, according to state officials.

Permits for hunts for trophy-size coastal brown bears – animals which grow to 10-feet tall and can weigh more than 1,500 pounds – are much in demand. The same was not so for the permit for which Trump Jr. applied.

Anyone who read the permit drawing application for grizzly bear hunts on the Seward Peninsula would have seen that putting in for a non-resident permit there is a shoo-in, said Eddie Grasser, the state’s Director of Wildlife Conservation.  Most years there are significantly more permits than applicants.

This year, Trump was one of only three non-resident hunters to apply for 27 permits, said Fish and Game spokesman Rick Green. Hunters are limited to one permit.

On his website, Gray reports, “our bears range from 7 to 7 1/2 foot.…But there are bears as big as 8-9ft in our area! The bears we have are barren-ground grizzly bears,” weighing 300- to 800-pounds.”

The Seward Peninsula bears are not especially big, but there is a large and healthy population of them. The Alaska Native residents of the area have more than once complained there are too many asked the state to allow a bigger annual kill.

Four years ago, the Nome Eskimo Community requested the Alaska Board of Game to extend the resident grizzly season to run from Aug. 1 to May 31 and allow a harvest of a bear every year, arguing that “muskoxen have been driven into the city limits and on to the airports, in large part by a need to escape bear predation on calves.

“The Unit 22C moose population is depressed again due in part to bear eating calves. The local reindeer herds are also feeling the effects of predation. More bears are being taken as defense of life and property culls.”

State wildlife managers have traditionally managed grizzly/brown bears very conservatively with relatively short seasons in spring and fall and hunters limited to but one bear every four years because of the low reproductive rate of bears and the several years it takes them to reach breeding age.

That has sometimes put them at odds with rural residents who have to live with animals that on average now kill more than one Alaskan per year and hospitalize more than eight people per year, according to the Alaska Section of Epidemiology, while scaring the bejesus out of many, many more.

As state wildlife biologists are quick to point out, most human-bear encounters end without an incident, but many people remain fearful of the animals or worried they will steal subsistence food stores of fish and wildlife.

Just back from a Game Board meeting in Nome, Grasser said he expected the residents of the historic mining town would be ” excited as hell” to learn the younger Trump planned to remove a grizzly from their backyard.

The state was hoping for more like him. The drawing permit hunts are a big money maker for the the fish and wildlife agency.

“I think we did OK; we raised $2 million on the drawing system” this year, Grasser said. Hunters pay $10 per hunt to enter the drawing, and non-resident permits winners are an especially big plus for the state.

Those who win a bear hunt need to buy a $1,000 locking tag and a $160 general hunting license before they take to the field, making their total payout to the state $1,170. The 23 non-resident permits which went unissued because no one applied would have brought the state more than $28,000.

The money from license fees is used to match federal funds collected on hunting supplies to support state wildlife management program.

Anti-hunting sentiments

No sooner was the news of Trump Jr.’s hunt out than a petition was launched to “demand that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game put an end to all grizzly bear hunting!”

It had been signed by 36,000 people by Monday night and “liked” by 1.7 million.

The petition claimed Trump Jr. “just bought the right to hunt an innocent, beloved animal recreationally. Trophy hunting is a cruel and unnecessary sport, the endgame of which is the grotesque collecting and displaying of a murdered animal’s body parts, and Don Jr. is looking to add a grizzly bear head to his vast hoard.”

The petition was topped by a photo of a sow grizzly bear with two cubs of the year. Alaska trophy bear hunters are specifically forbidden from shooting sows with cubs. An Alaska guide could lose his license for letting someone like Trump Jr. shoot such a bear.

And Green noted that if Trump had wanted, he probably could have avoided paying the $10 to enter the drawing for a permit.

The governor has 50 permits at his disposal that he can give hunters to promote the state. Trump Jr., a valued member of Safari Club International which has helped fund widlife research projects in Alaska in the past, might have been able to get Gov. Mike Dunleavy to give him a free permit if he’d asked.

But he never asked.

“We didn’t know about it until it came out,” Green said.

And as of this time, none in the Alaska media seem to have noticed the other significant political name that pops up among the drawing permit winners this year –
Dunleavy, Michael J.” from Wasilla.

That would be Alaska’s governor, who drew a far more popular permit than Trump. Dunleavy was awarded one of 200 antlerless moose permits available for the southeast portion of the Susitna Valley. That is not a trophy hunt, but a straight-up meat hunt.

Straight records show Dunleavy paid Fish and Game $70 to apply for seven permits in all, but only won the one. He lost in the drawings for permits to hunt Kodiak brown bear, an elk on Raspberry Island, a mountain goat on Kodiak Island, a Delta bison (the state’s most hotly contested permit), a Tok area Dall sheep (another extremely popular draw), and a Nunivak Island muskox.

Trump Jr. applied for only the one hunt.














35 replies »

  1. “Native American leaders pressed lawmakers in Congress Wednesday to adopt permanent protections for grizzly bears, a species widely revered by tribes…
    Grizzlies play a central role in the traditions and ceremonies of many tribes, said former Hopi Tribe chairman Benjamin Nuvamsa.
    Some Native Americans refer to them as “Uncle” or “Grandfather” and consider the animals to be healers.”

  2. Craig,
    Thank you for this excellent article. Having lived in Nome and being a meet harvester I believe your article is fair and accurate. My Nome friends truly have angst against their grizzly population which is very healthy..

  3. Coupla things: First, the BOG and ADF&G pretty carefully manages the resource. If every permit allowed were to result in a dead bear, the population would be far from devastated. Second, Natives have traditionally held a spiritual connection to the land and its produce, animal, vegetable, and mineral. That has never meant they have not put it to use, including killing. Steve is probably not acquainted with the regs enough to know there have been in some areas subsistence hunts for brown/grizzly bears to satisfy local Native demands for traditional use including foods. These hunts came about via strong requests by certain Native groups. To insure they were not trophy hunts, but strictly for subsistence, parts of the hide/head were to be separated. BTW, in times of the year and in locales where the bears have been vegetable diets, brown/grizzly meat can be downright delicious.

    • Rod,
      You said it yourself…the bears that are on a Vegetarian diet are the healthiest.
      Many coastal bears eat up to 95 percent grass.
      Amazing how a large mammal can grow so big and strong on a plant based diet, yet humans feel Vegetarians are weak and sluggish?
      I am glad you wrote that…it speaks volumes to the misunderstanding of our diets.

      • I’ve seen bears eat the young of other bear alive, I’ve also seen them eat the rotting corpse of other bears. Are you really suggesting we follow the diets of a few bears just so you can feel good about eating your veggies?

        Newsflash Steve, bears and humans are completely different creatures. While sometimes I question the ability of some, our brains are one of the major differences bewteen bears and humans. Our brains requires certain things that meat provides, in fact we evolved to need these things that only meat provides.

      • Steve O,
        Other than a supplemental B12 vitamin there is nothing that cannot be obtained from a plant based diet.
        Even agricultural livestock receive supplemental B12 since it seems water purification has killed the bacteria that once supplied it to us.
        All of the essential amino acids are available in plants.
        Remember that your entire body is merely made up of a bunch of cells…somewhere around 37 Trillion of them.
        Your brain cells still function like other cells in your body…they consume food and excrete waste.
        “All protein originates in plants, and the idea of animals being the middle men really resonated with me…Those animals are doing us a disservice, robbing us of fibre and vital nutrients.”
        (GQ magazine/ gamechangers)

      • Steve,

        This is where the word quantity matters most, you say that “there is nothing that cannot be obtained from a plant based diet” this is simply not true. You cannot eat enough plants to provide what your body needs to survive let alone thrive. Your brain needs much, much more than the grass diet that some bears or agricultural livestock eat. If you are ok having the brain sustaining nutrition of a brown bear or agricultural livestock, good for you, it explains a lot.

      • Steve Stine, do you really think a Brown Bear could fatten-up and survive a long winter off a plant based diet? Why do you think salmon are so important? Where do you think the real pounds come from? Sedge or berries? Now going from memory here so bear with me (you see what I did there? Cracks me up :), but if I remember, a brown bear can eat 80-90lbs of a plant based diet daily to gain a mere 3lbs.

      • Steve O says:
        “You cannot eat enough plants to provide what your body needs to survive let alone thrive.”
        This type of misinformation has been debunked over and over by professional nutritionists and dietitians.
        The DOD nutritionists just backed the documentary “Gamechangers” and are supporting the science behind following a plant based diet.
        James Wilks who produced Gamechangers is a very successful MMA fighter (and Vegan)…he won the UFC “Ultimate Fighter” title and is currently working with the military as a combat trainer for marines and navy seals.
        I would say he is “thriving” just fine.
        Please enlighten me on this mystery substance that the brain needs which is unobtainable from plants?
        There are many examples of professional athletes on a plant based diet and many like James Wilks and Nate Diaz are both vegans who each won UFC titles at their weight classes, and are active promoting the diet.
        Your antiquated beliefs have no scientific evidence to back them up.

      • Here’s a study on 555 Kenyan schoolchildren who were fed one of three different types of soup – one with meat, one with milk, and one with oil – or no soup at all, as a snack over seven school terms. They were tested before and after, to see how their intelligence compared. The children who were given the soup containing meat each day seemed to have a significant edge. By the end of the study, they outperformed all the other children on a test for non-verbal reasoning. Along with the children who received soup with added oil, they also did the best on a test of arithmetic ability.

      • Here’s a study about B12 is directly linked to IQ, and low levels are bad.

        Turns out about half of vegans and vegetarians are B12 deficient.

        I could go on and on, but to say that I have “antiquated beliefs [and] have no scientific evidence to back them up” is demonstrably false. Science backs my knowledge of how the human body functions and makes it clear that there are many important “mystery substance[s] that the brain needs which [are] unobtainable from plants”

      • The lesson here is that meat eaters are smarter than herbivores, something we throughout nature, because let’s face it: how much intelligence does it take to sneak up on a blade of grass?

      • Steve O,
        Again, you obviously missed my first comment that said:
        “Other than a supplemental B12 vitamin there is nothing that cannot be obtained from a plant based diet.”

        I am not gonna argue with you all day (every day)…but will just show you a couple of the nutrients where you are wrong.
        First off, a pound and a half of potatoes a day is nothing for a vegan….a couple baked potatoes a day could do that…but there are many other sources of B6.
        “The best plant sources of vitamin B6 include nutritional yeast, muesli, fortified vegan breakfast cereals, avocados, pistachio nuts, wheat germ, acorn squash, banana, quinoa, sunflower seeds, corn on the cob, wholemeal spaghetti, Brussel’s sprouts, spring greens, chestnuts, hazelnuts, oranges, tahini (sesame seed paste …”
        Let’s do Iron next…
        “Leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, swiss chard, collard and beet greens contain between 2.5–6.4 mg of iron per cooked cup, or 14–36% of the RDI…Tomato Paste. …Potatoes. …Mushrooms. …Palm Hearts.”
        Added with fortified Almond milk in the diet you have no problem reaching your RDI.
        Oatmeal also provides some Iron in the diet.
        Lastly, I will do Selenium…
        “Brazil nuts are the richest source of selenium and 6 nuts (1 ounce) provide about 500 ug. Couscous, whole wheat pasta and sunflower seeds also provide selenium but a cup of these foods has <50 ug. Avocados can also provide selenium."

        So, if you are a vegan and eat potatoes (both sweet and standard) with Avocados, Oats, Quinoa, Lentils, plenty of fruits and leafy beans and a few supplements you are totally fine.
        Almost everyone in AK supplements D3 as the sun is our best source along with some mushrooms.

        I know…what about Omega 3…
        "Brussels Sprouts. …Algal Oil. …Hemp Seed. …Walnuts. …Flaxseeds. …Perilla Oil."

        Just finished my awesome lunch of a few sweet potatoes, flaxmeal, brussel sprouts, carrots, onions, lentils and guacamole…YUM!!
        Gonna go out for another ski and grab more vitamin D.

      • Well it’s no wonder the majority of non-meat eaters are so deficient in key nutrition. They have to eat more than a pound and a half of potatoes everyday just to get the minimum amount of B6 and 3 to 7 cooked cups of “leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, swiss chard, collard and beet greens” just to get the minimum amount of iron, add in a handful or two of nuts for your selenium intake. There are still so many missing key nutrients, how many other pounds of vegetables need to be consumed daily to meet these minimum requirements?

        Like I said you cannot eat enough plants to provide what your body needs to survive let alone thrive. Studies show time and time again that non-meat diets are missing key nutrients, the main reason is because humans aren’t meant to eat vegetables all day everyday.

      • Steve O,
        You can say whatever you want to say, but the science does not back you up.
        “This diet has been reviewed by U.S. News’ team of expert panelists…
        Precisely how you shape your vegan diet each day is up to you, but you’ll typically aim for six servings of grains; five servings of legumes, nuts and other types of protein, such as peanut butter, chickpeas, tofu, potatoes and a plant-based milk; and four daily servings of veggies, two servings of fruit and two servings of healthy fats such as sesame oil, avocado and coconut, according to an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics guide”

        Take a look at any of the non dairy milks like Almond or Rice…they are fortified with all kinds of B vitamins, Calcium, Iron, Zinc, Potassium, Vitamin D, Folate, Vitamin E, etc…

        There are many vegans who pass the blood tests every day for meeting all their RDI…but not with junk food…you have to know what to eat.

        And the big difference is NO Cholesterol to clog your heart and brain…along with other organs throughout the body.
        Having clean arteries & veins helps keep oxygen levels high which is what our cells are looking for.

        “Plant-based diets are becoming more popular in the United States.
        A 2017 report found that 6% of people in the U.S. now identify as vegan, compared with just 1% in 2014”

      • Steve,

        You’ve linked to a news article, I’ve linked to numerous scientific studies. Please don’t tell me that you think US News is a scientific journal.

        All of the information you have provided includes food fortified with additives in order to provide some of the missing nutrition that is required on a daily basis. I’m not saying people shouldn’t eat vegetables, I even eat them, but spreading misinformation and promoting a diet that is scientifically proven to be unhealthy for the majority of people who take part in it is irresponsible at best.

        As non-meat diets become more popular, those who may adopt that way of eating should be informed about the effects on their bodies especially when ill informed folks try and proselytize on articles about hunting.

      • Steve O,
        Many people are deficient that are on the Standard American Diet not just Vegans.

        My point was that ALL the necessary nutrients needed for health ARE available through plant sources and CAN be obtained with proper care.
        That is true.

        I can show you a study that proves about anything…depending on who the funders are.
        I would have to look into your studies to see who funded them (probably the meat industry).

        Being plant based is no different…you need proper nutrition and good menus each day.

        Here is a study that shows the majority of Americans on the SAD diet are deficient.
        “A recent study conducted as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) indicates that U.S. children and adults have high rates of deficiency of vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and folate, as well as the mineral iron…
        Nearly one-third (31 percent) of the U.S. population is at risk for at least one vitamin deficiency or anemia…
        The Standard American Diet Is a Nutritional Travesty…
        Several factors are responsible for the “well fed but undernourished” epidemic sweeping the nation, including a high intake of processed foods, declining levels of nutrients in our soils, and the increasing prevalence of chronic health conditions that influence nutrient needs.”
        This proves a great deal of where the “deficiencies” are coming from…
        #1 Processed foods.
        #2 Low nutrients in soil.
        #3 Poor nutrient absorption due to health.
        It is prudent to take a good multi vitamin daily no matter if you eat animals or not this is not a “deal breaker” for going plant based.

      • You don’t exactly make a compelling argument Steve. You claim (without a shred of evidence) that the numerous scientific studies I provide were paid for by the meat industry. Then you share a link to the website of an acupuncturists who is pushing the paleo diet. Honestly that guy seems more interested in selling online training courses in how to be a health coach (for the low low price of thousands of dollars!) than he does about what you or I eat. You are obviously making a joke with that link, right?

        I do agree that most western diets are horrible and that most processed foods are not good for those who eat them, but just because one diet is bad doesn’t mean we should ignorantly take to another one that causes similar issues.

  4. Well another year of “donating” another $175.00 for me. 8 years in a row of not drawing anything, I faithfully turn in my surveys on time.Never had a violation. Been to fish and feathers twice recently to see if I’m on some black list somewhere. Nothing is there.
    I hunt Nome area in the spring. We do well.
    I’m glad Tom is guiding this hunt. Fine man, excellent choice of guides. He knows that area well.

      • Jason,
        Looking at Tom Gray’s website you can see the amount of large “Trophy Bears” he has helped to kill on his photo page.
        The thing that strikes me is Tom (the guide) states on his site that he is:  “A Native Alaskan Tom Gray has lived here all his life”.
        I always thought that Native Americans had more of a spiritual connection to large brown bears, but apparently that is only in the lower 48 where brown bears are endangered?
        No one eats brown bears…this is purely an ego kill just for “bragging rights”, a head and a rug.
        Seems like a waste of a keystone species to me.

      • What isn’t an “ego kill?” Is not a “spiritual connection” a manmade construct wrapped up in our thoughts about ourselves, ergo the ego? Alaska Natives, like polar bears, once had to kill wildlife because of the shortage of other food sources in the land of the cold, dark silence.

        Nobody needs to kill wildlife anymore, however, though we all need to kill something to survive. Killing is natural. Death is the motor that drives ecological systems. They are designed to turn over again and again just like the engine in your snowmachine.

      • Steve S. This is also called game management. When the mortality rate of moose & caribou calves because of the excessive amount of bears & wolves exceeds to the point of not yielding any calves, They need to be thinned down.
        The same thing is happening in the lower 48 where they have reintroduced grizzlies & wolves. The mortality rate for elk calves have climbed to a point that they are starting hunts for bears.
        Just my humble opinion.

      • Ok, that’s all I was looking for: you’re disgusted by hunting, and trophy hunting in particular. Never mind that it’s carefully managed and an important part of the state economy, it’s “disgusting.” As an aside, I find it both sad and deeply ironic that you purposely moved to a state and a neighborhood where so many things that you hate were a part of the culture.

      • Jason,
        I also find it ironic that you LEFT this state and now feel that you are a mouthpiece for AK?
        Just for your knowledge, I am NOT against subsistence hunting, but paying a guide to get you a trophy head is not hunting for food…not in the slightest respect!
        Lastly, there is very much that I love about AK (mountains, rivers, homesteads, clean air and water, many of the people, opportunity for growth, etc) and do not feel a loyalty to any of the harmful economic ways currently at play in the North.
        Maybe you should research deep ecology and the importance of keystone species…It appears your biases have no scientific base.

      • Well, not sure where you’re getting all that “being the mouthpiece for AK” nonsense from, Steve. I never claimed to be one. Yes, I did move but it wasn’t for lack of love for the great state I can assure you that. My contributions to the state’s lore and history are slight, but I’m deeply proud to have held even a tiny part in the rich tapestry that is the land of the midnight sun. Anyone who’s spent any time around me will know first hand that I love the land and it’s people, from one end of the state to the other, and that I never complain, belittle or denigrate those who live there who’s lifestyles aren’t the same as mine like some other people I could name but won’t since I’m a gentleman and wouldn’t want to embarrass you.

      • Well Jason,
        If you love Alaska (so much) I am sure you can find a way to return and be a part of the great Alaskan experiment.
        After nearly 15 years up here, I can say that the dark & cold winters plays as much of a role in defining this state as does the “midnight sun”.
        Imagine sleeping in your den all winter and finally coming out into the Spring sun only to be met by firepower shots at you?
        Have some Empathy for the grizzly and take a look into the interconnectedness of deep ecology.
        These animals are special and do not only belong to the highest bidder.
        My right to view wolves and bears in the wild is no less valuable than some out of state hunter looking to put another head on his or her wall.
        You bet I love this place and I am willing to stand up for what I believe in!
        Too much of the wildlife population is slaughtered (and not only for food).
        It is getting harder and harder to see wolves and brown bears in many areas of the state since F&G is managed by Safari Club members and not real conservationists who have Environmental Degrees.
        You may not believe in a college education, but there are plenty of us who do.
        There is plenty of space in AK and if you really love this place so much, you will find a way to get up here and settle down…just like I have done.

    • Steve,

      Would you say that you would prosecute this hunt if you could? Does that work with your interpretation of the word prosecute? Seems like it does, but it doesn’t make any sense in this case either.

  5. Liberal tears in my bear, oops, I mean beer. They will cry about any and everything. How I wish Obama or Sander’s were chosen. Love to hear the muted (I know, I know) reponses then.
    Liberals should be jumping for joy that there is someone dumb enough to pay $15-$25,000 to kill a bear AND be grateful a huge portion of that money goes to conservation. Guess the lib really is mental.
    I am really sad though that the article didn’t say Don Jr. would be shooting off the platform at Brooks Falls. Man, TDS would be in full-swing then.
    Not my thing but I say good luck Don. Haters will hate.
    “This year, Trump was one of only three non-resident hunters to apply for 27 permits, said Fish and Game spokesman Rick Green.”

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