Moose, bears, wolves on BOG agenda

Board of Game to meet this week in Kenai

Moose, brown bear and wolf management will be discussed at the Board of Game meeting this week in Kenai.


The Board of Game will meet March 15-19 at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center to vote on proposals that will affect game management on the Kenai Peninsula. Four proposals — 144, 147, 153 and 160 — address moose, brown bear and wolf management. At the meeting the Board of Game will hear testimony from the Kenai-Soldotna Alaska Department of Fish and Game Advisory Committee, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and local residents.

The Advisory Committee supported Proposal 144, which retains the current moose harvest regulations in Game Management Units 7 and 15, said Mike Crawford, head of the Kenai-Soldotna advisory committee.

Current regulations restrict harvests to bull moose with a 50-inch antler spread or greater, or at least four brow tines on one side for the general hunting season in the two units, which span the entire Peninsula.

“Right now we felt that we should stay conservative on our moose populations and make sure we have moose,” Crawford said.

Without recent moose population estimates, the advisory committee did not want to raise the harvest objectives, particularly in unit 15A, which runs from Sterling to Cook Inlet, he said.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game takes the opposite stance, however, said Jeff Selinger, Kenai area wildlife biologist for Fish and Game.

“The department believes we can liberalize to allow spikes to be harvested, which would allow additional opportunities to harvest moose this year,” Selinger said.

He said the moose population in unit 15C is greater than the department projected.

Fish and Game also currently wants the hunting season in the units to span Sept. 1-20, he said.

Proposal 147 addresses aerial wolf control and moose management objectives in unit 15A.

The first part of the proposal supports suspending aerial wolf control — or targeted killing of wolves. The second part supports changing the moose population objectives from 3,000-3,500 to 2,000-2,900 and the moose harvest objectives from 180-350 to 120-290.

“We talked about both parts of that proposal, and we ended up not adopting either one,” Crawford said.

The Advisory Committee supports aerial wolf control as a way to buffer what Crawford said are declining moose numbers in 15A, he said.

Fish and Game takes no stance on the proposal, Selinger said.

“We think if we lower those objectives down to a moose and a half or two moose per square mile … we’ll be able to prolong the amount of time we can harvest moose out of that area,” he said.

By harvesting moose more aggressively before they peak out, he said their population should fare better as more browse would be available.

“We think if we lower those objectives down to a moose and a half or two moose per square mile … we’ll be able to prolong the amount of time we can harvest moose out of that area,” he said.

Proposal 153 supports opening a registration brown bear hunt running from April 1 to May 31 and Sept. 1 to Nov. 1 with a set bag limit at one brown bear every regulatory year in units 15A and 15C and one brown bear every four regulatory years in non-intensive management units.

The Advisory Committee recommended the proposal be amended for the registration bear hunt to run from Sept. 1 to June 15 with one bag limit set for a single brown bear every regulatory year in the two intensive management units, Crawford said.

“We felt that the current regulations were underutilizing a resource that people were interested in,” he said. “That would allow for a pretty liberal season.”

Last fall, of the roughly 700 permit holders, Selinger said 42 brown bears were harvested on the Peninsula, including defense of life and property killings.

Opening the season and allowing for more harvest would not only increase hunting opportunity, but also improve moose calf survival and lessen people-bear interactions, Crawford said.

“Obviously there’s benefits to reduction of brown bear numbers on the Peninsula,” he said.

Fish and Game agrees, Selinger said. But it supports a registration season west of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and in the areas of Seward and Moose Pass with no harvest cap set, he said. There would just be a fall and spring season, he said.

The rest of the Peninsula would revert to a drawing season with a harvest cap of 10 adult female brown bears, he said.

The number of bears harvested from the registration season hunt would determine the amount of permits issued for the drawing season, he said.

Proposal 160 supports opening a no-closed hunting season for wolves in units 7 and 15. The Advisory Committee sponsored the proposal.

“We felt that he additional take would be a low number, and it would give people an opportunity to take wolf outside of the regular hunting seasons,” Crawford said. “We’re under a management plan right now to reduce the number of wolves on the Peninsula.”

Fish and Game has no recommendation for the proposal, Selinger said.

As further data is released, Fish and Game may change its stance on given proposals, he said.

Editor's note: This article has been ammended to reflect the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's updated stance on proposal 147. Fish and Game has amended its position on whether or not to change game management unit 15A’s intensive management objectives. At the time the Clarion gathered information for this story, Fish and Game supported changes, but changed to a “no recommendation” position to that item and all of proposal 147 before this article was published.