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Predator control on Board of Game agenda

Posted: January 12, 2012 - 10:22pm

The Alaska Board of Game’s statewide annual meeting starts today in Anchorage, with many proposals on the docket, but none as controversial for the Kenai Peninsula than two pertaining to Intensive Management Plans.

The two proposals, 35 and 36, call for predator control in Game Management Units 15A and 15C respectively. During the Board of Game’s November meeting in Barrow, a decision for both proposals was tabled until the statewide meeting. 

“We tabled it for two reasons,” Cliff Judkins, Board of Game chair said. “One is that in Barrow, the (Alaska Department of Fish and Game) really wasn’t ready to bring (a plan) to us by then. They hadn’t done all the field work they needed to do.

“And two — we wanted to bring it back down to this area where it was closer to the Peninsula, rather than make decisions up in Barrow.”

One of the reasons for the delays has been the fact that the department of Fish and Game is building intensive management plans using feasibility assessments, one for each subunit, in a new predator control area, Tony Kavalok, Fish and Game division of wildlife assistant director said.

“In the past, intensive management plans were put together by department staff using existing data on predator and prey populations, division of wildlife policy and directives from the Board of Game,” Kavalok said.

Now, three document templates are used to make up the Intensive Management Plans. They include a feasibility assessment, operational plan and a department report. 

“Those three documents help guide the development of the Intensive Management Plan for each area, at least that’s the format we’re using now,” Kavalok said. 

The Intensive Management Plans for Units 15A and 15C is what the Board needed to base their final decision on, Judkins said. 

With the plans available, the Board will hear public comment today, hopefully around late afternoon or evening, Board vice-chair Ted Spraker said. 

“We have about 10 reports from (Fish and Game) and other folks,” Spraker said. “We usually have staff reports to being with, so that usually takes most of the first day. So by (Friday) evening, we’ll probably start with public testimony. And that will go all day Saturday, and most of the day Sunday.”

Hearing from the public is a part of the meeting the Board looks forward to, Spraker said.

“There’s nothing better than an informed public,” Spraker said. “That’s who the Board really likes to hear from, is people that have researched and done their homework, they know the issue real well — and they’re trying to look out for the resource.”

After the Board hears from the public, it will be time to get down to business. Spraker said the Board will go through about 100 proposals, and he expects a decision for Proposals 35 and 36 to come on Monday, but it all depends on the workflow.

Game Management Unit 15A mostly resides within the Kenai Federal Wildlife Refuge, which presents its own set of challenges, Kavalok said. 

“The predator control there will cover the federal land,” he said. “But the actual predator removal will not take place on federal land.”

The predator removal will not occur on the refuge’s land in order to adhere to Fish and Wildlife’s mandates and policies, Kavalok said. 

“The wolves still belong to the people of the state of Alaska,” Kavalok said. “And we’re charged with managing that population.

“There’s a lot of real big challenges in trying to recover that moose population (within the refuge).” 

The two proposals have sparked many debates on the Peninsula about what should be done. Kavalok acknowledges that having predator control in the area is different than elsewhere in the state.

“It’s not a black and white issue,” he said. “In other parts of Alaska it’s been a lot easier to say, ‘We clearly have a depressed moose population, significantly depressed, or we have a good habitat, good production, and we have large numbers of predators and we can go in there, remove predators and see corresponding balance in the prey population.’”

The Peninsula does not fall under that model, Kavalok said. Habitat is one of the biggest challenges with the Intensive Management Plan in unit 15A. 

“We can do predator control to help resolve the issue, but its not going to solve the problem without significant habitat regeneration,” Kavalok said. 

While in 15C, the pressing issue is the bull-to-cow ratio, he said. 

In both units, Kavalok said the department’s goal is to have moose available for harvest. 

“In other words, the moose that we save from reducing wolves, our intention is to make those available for harvest through hunting,” he said.

Judkins hopes the Board can reach a decision on the two proposals, no matter what the outcome.
“I’d like to see us move ahead with something,” he said. “I’m not really in the mood to table it any further.”

The meeting will start today at 8:30 a.m. at the Anchorage Hilton. A live stream of the meeting can be found on the Board of Game’s website at http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=gameboard.meetinginfo. 

 

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potomac
191
Points
potomac 01/13/12 - 10:15 am
0
0
predator control

All the science shows lack of habitat, not predators. Wolves kill 2%, Brown bears another 2%, blackbears are way up there in the 23 % bracket. Meanwhile simi trucks and vehicles still take the brunt of cows and calves, which once averaged 365 a year, that is pretty darn hard to keep a viable herd on the Kenai Peninsula with that kind of carnage every year, which now has dropped with the herd numbers. There are several things that could be done and should be but shooting wolves from aircraft isn't an intelligent tool to build up these moose herds on the Kenai. For one allow the studies that are going on to be completed and as a game board ask for more studies to understand the whole picture. Down south with all the beetle kill only squirrels can travel the country, up north the willow and birch is dieing off, how about clearing some land with the same equipment that clears the right a ways?? That way in areas where fire can't be used as a tool to improve habitat this equipment can. Clear large areas off the road systems where the moose travel to direct them off the road barrow pits, maybe make some snow routes in the winter for them where they tend to cross the highway come up with a motion sensor and flashing sign when they approach the road, maybe even reduce the speed limits in the winter time, instead of blaming the Federal folks at the refuge, offer to help them on the ground to improve habitat , offer to spend some of out F&G money of studies on the Refuge. I don't think our little window the local game board looks out of is being helped much by an individual that had plenty of time with the Soldotna office of the F&G and did nothing for moose all those 20 something years running that department, we need new blood and less opinionated old adverse views. The habitat decline didn't happen over night, maybe the fire breaks is a good idea from the F&G in 15A after all, there were tons of them put in before and all the exploration trails in the past all added up to better habitat back then. Yes all this costs money so hopefully sportman and woman will step up, ask for increases in lic. etc., what ever it takes to bring back some of the numbers of moose on the Kenai

orionsbow1
4
Points
orionsbow1 01/13/12 - 10:44 am
0
0
Public testimony

I would like to think that the board of game really listens and is potentially swayed by public testimony, but I think the decision has been made and slaughter of wolves is about to begin. I mean really, thats the easiest thing to do, right? Habitat regeneration would take lots of time and work, even though thats the only long term solution. Predator control through bounties or other incentives would be slow and results not guaranteed. ADF&G and the Board of game are kowtowing to the outfitters, tourist boards and other big spenders to put a 50 inch moose behind every other tree no matter what the cost.

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