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North to Wolf Country: My Life Among the Creatures of Alaska - James W. Brooks Boy, this guy led a dangerous life. I can't imagine having the nerve he did. The stories from when he left home at 16 to ride railroad cars alone are way too life-threatening for me. And it is an eye-opener to me that a guy who never graduated from high school and writes about going to prostitutes would end up being commissioner, a breed that seems to live on a higher plane in this government town.
James Brooks moved to Alaska in 1940 and got a a series of menial jobs throughout Alaska. He also spent a winter out on his own trapping in the interior, living in an abandoned cabin in the Kantishna area and pulling 2 of his own teeth. He was only 19 that winter. He enlisted in the army and learned to fly planes, PT-22s, Stearmans, BT-13s, AT-17s, and B-24s. Then he returned to Alaska and married. He and his wife lived in Dillingham and then in Wales where he participated in hunting with the local people and was concerned about the number of walrus that were killed and lost by sinking. With a growing interest in game management issues, he returned to the university to study wildlife management and by 1954 had a master's degree. He went to work for the State Dept of Fish and Game, first studying beluga whales, later managing the seal control program, which at the time was done in the southeast by shooting and in the Copper River Delta by dynamiting large numbers of seals, and then studying sea lions. When Alaska became a state, ke wrote part of the of the law that would define the duties of the Fish and Game Department, including provision for a board of Fish and Game. He also lobbied for having the Walrus Islands selected as part of the lands conveyed to the new State and for creating the Walrus Islands State Game Sanctuary. There is some good history of predator control from early statehood. In 1967 Brooks left his job with the state and worked for the federal Fish and Wildlife Service studying polar bears until 1972, when he was appointed commissioner of Fish and Game. He stopped permits for aerial shooting of wolves and participated in or started other controversies during his tenure.