Policing the Big, Wild Life in Anchorage, Alaska

As snows melt, pregnant moose grow increasingly cranky, and bears begin to emerge hungry from their winter dens, Anchorage city officials have decided it's time to hire someone to police the Big, Wild Life.

The big questions are who and how, given that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game contends the municipality lacks the legal authority to manage state wildlife.

Eagle River assemblyman Bill Starr, who spearheaded a resolution calling on the city manager to hire a wildlife manager, said he isn't concerned about care of wildlife. He's concerned about public safety.

"The alternative is do what?" Starr asked Wednesday. "Nothing?''

After a summer in which three area residents were mauled by grizzly bears, a majority of Anchorage Assembly members Tuesday night sided with Starr in deciding something more has to be done to protect the citizenry. They agreed to hire a bear manager and directed the city manager to get cracking on a plan.

"Everybody zeros in on this 'bear cop' idea,'' Starr said, "but there's a lot more in there."

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