A male yearling black bear is pictured trapped in a snare on Douglas Island. The bear was euthanized because of extensive injuries due to the snare. (Alaska State Troopers | Courtesy Photo)

A male yearling black bear is pictured trapped in a snare on Douglas Island. The bear was euthanized because of extensive injuries due to the snare. (Alaska State Troopers | Courtesy Photo)

Opinion: Why you should care about this wildlife court case

This hunter’s action illegally killed multiple bears.

  • Monday, April 8, 2019 7:00am
  • Opinion

Last summer you may remember seeing a Juneau Empire article on the taking of a bear cub in an illegal wolf snare on Douglas Island. The bear cub suffered greatly and had to be euthanized.

The case of Mark David Mitchell will be coming up for trial this spring (April 23, according to electronic court records). If you care about sound game management, wildlife conservation, safe trails and crime in the state of Alaska, you should care and act on this case as public opinion is needed to bring justice for this crime. Otherwise leniency may allow this repeat offender to not only “get away with” this crime, but continue to do so.

Mark David Mitchell is a repeat offender having illegally taken moose and then setting wolf snares out of season all over Douglas Island that have now wastefully killed two bears. This means he has stolen wildlife that belongs to all Alaskans and wasted it in the worst way possible, and endangered more wildlife, dogs and people by placing illegal snares all over Douglas Island (that are still out there).

That is just what we actually know he has done. He has undoubtedly violated wildlife laws many times more and not been caught. This is why he has the confidence to continue violating the law, and he most certainly will continue to do so if there are no consequences for any of his actions.

Are you someone with a hunting, fishing or trapping license that follows the rules? Cheaters like Mark David Mitchell undermine the integrity of wildlife management systems that determine what can be taken sustainably by rendering the math invalid that decides how much and when animals can be safely taken. The processes to make these decisions use up no small amount of state resources. Tolerating cheaters only encourages more to cheat and threatens the ability of to enjoy a bountiful harvest. The license you pay for is meaningless if the rules are not followed with violators prosecuted and subject to losing that license when they cheat.

Are you someone who enjoys wildlife viewing, photography or benefits from the many tourists who come to the state to enjoy our wildlife? Your interests matter, too. Wildlife belongs to every Alaskan whether they buy a license or not. If wildlife is wasted, opportunities for your quality of life and economic opportunity providing that quality experience to others is threatened.

Are you a hiker or dog walker? If you go to Douglas Island, be on the lookout for more of these illegal snares. They are reportedly possible all over the island and are continuing to pose a hazard not only to more wildlife, but to your pets and children.

Are you someone who thinks wildlife should be treated fairly and not wasted? The killing of the bear cub was inhumane, and it suffered for a long time. At the very least, animals should not be suffering in Alaska for illegal activities. If you have a moral compass and compassion for a suffering bear cub that died for nothing, your voice needs to be heard.

Are you someone who cares about the rise in crime in Alaska? Crime is a topical issue in our community. As Alaska becomes softer and softer on crime, letting this individual get away with these repeated and serious offenses only reinforces the message that committing a crime is no big deal in Alaska and emboldens criminals of all types.

As a law-abiding citizen who cares about wildlife for whatever reason, we encourage you to email the District Attorney’s office at marianne.delapaz@alaska.gov or call 465-3620 and ask the state and courts to do their job by prosecuting this individual to the full extent of the law for his crimes, including loss of any state licenses for fish and wildlife permanently.

• Linda Shaw is on the board of the Southeast chapter of the Alaska Wildlife Alliance. My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.

More in Opinion

Opinion: A balanced approach is needed for oil tax rates

For the good of Alaska and the future of the state, please vote no on Proposition 1.

People gather for a candlelight vigil for the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg near Dimond Courthouse on Saturday, Sept. 19. People shared remarks about some of Ginsburg’s most famous decisions during the event. Some expressed hopes her seat would not be filled until after Election Day. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Opinion: Loyalty to Alaska citizens not to the Republican Party, please

This is not a rush decision to be made in a month before election.

Have something to say?

Here’s how to add your voice to the conversation.

Opinion: Panic and lying are the new ‘gold standard’

The pandemic has caused more U.S. deaths in a year than in all U.S. conflicts since the Civil War.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg applauds after a performance in her honor after she spoke about her life and work during a discussion at Georgetown Law School in Washington in April 2018. The Supreme Court says Ginsburg has died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Opinion: Honoring RBG’s final wish for Americans

The president and the Congress must honor the will of the people.

Opinion: Alaska and America’s very survival are at stake this election year

There’s only one choice for this Marine and others who treasure our democracy.

Opinion: Election transparency is right for Alaska

A message from some North Dakota grandmas.

Opinion: Let’s honor RBG and shine up our precious democracy

We the people can help by voting Yes on 2 on Nov. 3, or as soon as our mail-in ballots arrive

Opinion: Ballot Measure 1 — The Very Fair Share Act

I am betting the oil industry can afford to pay a greater share.

Most Read