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Mama bear Palin accused of breaching countryside rules in TV nature show

November 14, 2010 - London

Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin's new television show, which is yet to be aired, has already landed her in a controversy for breaching countryside rules.

A leading conservationist in Alaska has accused Palin of flagrant irresponsibility by fishing too close to protected brown bears, reports the Guardian.

John Toppenberg, director of the Alaska Wildlife Alliance, said scenes in an online trailer for the programme showed the former Republican vice-presidential candidate breaking the rules of Wolverine Creek, a famous spot where bears - and humans - come to fish.

"It's clear from the video that she has violated the guidelines," he said, calling her actions 'a travesty'.

In a preview of 'Alaska', a docu-travelogue, the former state governor is shown fishing for salmon with husband Todd and family members.

She was seen apparently holding her rod towards brown bears on the riverbank, while the party's boat appeared to be closer to the bears than guidelines advise.

According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, people in a boat should not fish within 30ft of a bear.

"So, it's clearly irresponsible. She is encouraging the violation of important guidelines. Humans can get too close to the bears," said Toppenberg.

The irony of a right-wing conservative, who boasts of hunting moose and shooting wolves while campaigning for more oil drilling in Alaska, transforming herself into a nature fan for primetime has not been lost on environmentalists.

Toppenberg has warned that by behaving in an apparently irreverent manner, Palin was doing nothing to foster responsibility among visitors.

"She is encouraging the violation of important guidelines that allows tourism to flourish in Alaska. She is inviting future problems with the tourism industry and, in particular, the bear-viewing industry," he said.

Joe Meehan, of the wildlife conservation division of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said it appeared that the Palins' boat got within 30ft of the bears but not while they were actually feeding.

Meehan, who supervises Alaska's wildlife refuge programme, which includes Wolverine Creek, said that while he did not believe Palin had necessarily breached the guidelines, he was concerned over the signal she was sending.

"Fishing in close proximity to bears may, in general, not send an appropriate message to large numbers of people that are not experienced at fishing in bear country," he said.


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