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Grizzly encounters and other reasons for federal regulations

My Alaska encounters with fly fishing and grizzly bears reveal how much America benefits from federal regulations. Without them, this pristine wilderness would likely not exist, and neither would many protections for consumers and workers.

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Imagine standing 40 yards across a river from a good-sized Alaskan grizzly bear emerging out of willow scrub. There is no tree to climb.

We regard each other, yet both of us go about our business. The grizzly is fishing for spawning sockeye salmon. I am trying to raise a meaty rainbow trout or a Dolly Varden on a fly resembling a salmon egg. We share 100 miles of the Kanektok River because the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge is strictly regulated by both the federal government and the state of Alaska. I encounter two, three, and sometimes more grizzlies a day. There are plenty of fish for all of us. This is the tundra as God made it.

But, absent federal regulation, this primordial wilderness would likely not exist. It was saved in 1980 when President Jimmy Carter and Congress worked to preserve Alaskan wilderness refuges, creating enclaves the size of California.

Unnecessary? Fishermen in the Lower 48 boast about “harvesting” less regulated rivers in Oregon using illegal “power bait” or “DuPont spinners” – dynamite – to fill their freezers with salmon.

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