In a 9-1 vote last week, the Homer Fish and Game Advisory Committee recommended that the Board of Game not approve two intensive management proposals that include aerial wolf control.
Vice Chair Tom Young said he voted against the wolf control proposals because they address the wrong cause.
“The limiting factor on moose we can support on the peninsula is environmental,” he said. “It’s habitat.”
Young also said the Board of Game had already approved spike-fork and antler-length restrictions on bull moose that addresses low bull-cow ratios.
“Let’s let it be for a couple of years and see what happens,” he said.
The Alaska Board of Game last month released proposed intensive management plans for moose populations that include aerial wolf control for game Unit 15A, on the upper Kenai Peninsula, and Unit 15C on the lower peninsula north of Kachemak Bay.
Presented as proposals for the Nov. 11-14 Arctic Region Board of Game meeting in Barrow, Proposal 35 is the intensive management plan for Unit 15A and Proposal 36 is the plan for Unit 15C. The board could approve, modify, reject or table the plans.
Both plans would allow taking wolves by pilot-gunner crews in airplanes and allow aerial wolf control for five years, starting in January 2012.
The Oct. 25 meeting at the National Estuarine Research Reserve building on Kachemak Drive drew about 30 people. Homer Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist Thomas McDonough briefed the committee members, telling them that Unit 15C moose population estimates are right within management objectives of 2,900 moose. Habitat on the lower peninsula can and is supporting the desired moose population, he said. For Unit 15A on the north peninsula, habitat is stressed and predator control is unlikely to improve moose population.
“It doesn’t seem at all reasonable to do wolf control if at first you have a habitat problem,” said advisory committee member George Matz.
“The goal in 15A is reallocation of moose to human harvest,” McDonough said of the Board of Game proposal.
Advisory committee member Dave Lyon questioned the lack of evidence showing wolves are the predators mainly responsible for taking calves and older moose.
“It seems to me all the studies haven’t been done and we’re jumping into predator control,” Lyon said.
In testimony from attendance members, most spoke against the wolf control proposals.
“It has nothing to do with overpredation,” said Patricia Cue. She noted the effect of car-moose kills, about 300 last year. “Aerial hunting of wolves is no way we would solve this problem.”
Speaking for the wolf control proposals, pioneer homesteader and cattle rancher Bruce Willard noted he used to see large numbers of bull moose in the Box Cars, an area of the Caribou Hills. Wolves have chased the bulls away from prime habitat there, he said.
“If moose can’t get good grazing, they’ll be in jeopardy,” Willard said.
Rika Mouw, who lives in the Kachemak Drive area near moose habitat by the airport, said she’s seen habitat decline in that area.
“There just is no moose browse left,” she said. “You can’t boost numbers without boosting habitat.”
Hal Shepherd also questioned the lack of research.
“This has nothing to do with science and everything to do with politics,” he said.
It is past the deadline to have comments included in Board of Game packets for the meeting, but comments will still be accepted up to the start of the meeting on Nov. 11. Late comments can be faxed. Include the proposal number. Send comments to: Board of Game Comments, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Boards Support Section, P.O. Box 115526, Juneau AK 99811-5526, fax (907) 465-6094. Visit www.boardofgame.adfg.alaska.gov for more information.