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Brown bear hunting closed on Kenai National Wildlife Refuge

Posted: October 25, 2013 - 9:11pm  |  Updated: October 26, 2013 - 6:06pm
File photo/Peninsula Clarion
A young brown bear rummages for salmon carcasses on the bank of the Kenai River near its confluence with the Russian River.
File photo/Peninsula Clarion A young brown bear rummages for salmon carcasses on the bank of the Kenai River near its confluence with the Russian River.

The Kenai National Wildlife refuge announced an emergency closure to sport hunting for brown bear effective at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.

According to an emergency order released Friday, 66 bears have been killed by hunters or through other human-caused means this season meaning more than 10% of the estimated 624 bears on the Kenai Peninsula have been killed.

“That level, it’s not sustainable,” said Steve Miller, deputy refuge manager. “We think it’s a critical stage.”

Of the harvested bear, 22 were reproductive-aged females, he said.

Before the 2013 season the Alaska Department of Fish and Game limited the annual number of adult female brown bears who could be killed to 10.

“Suvivorship of adult female bears has been show to be the primary driver of brown bear population dynamics. Losing so many adult female bears will have immediate negative impacts on this populations,” said Refuge Supervisory Wildlife Biologist John Morton, according to the emergency order.

Miller said the high harvest of brown bears was due, in part, to a recent decision by Alaska’s Board of Game which liberalized the hunting methods.

“Prior to 2012, it was a drawing hunt only. Now it has become a registration hunt. Prior to this year there was one bear every four regulator years, this year it was one bear every regulatory year,” he said.

As of Oct. 22., more than 1,200 permits to hunt brown bear on the Kenai Peninsula have been issued by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Miller said.

State and Federal wildlife managers are not in total agreement over the closure.

Doug Vincent-Lang, Director of the Division of Wildlife Conservation for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game put out a media release saying the State of Alaska was disappointed by federal intervention in state hunting regulations.

“The current harvest of bears this year is not unexpected and does not represent a viability concern. Once again we are faced with overreach by the federal government into the management of Alaska’s wildlife,” Vincent-Lang said in the media release.

The debate over what percentage of the brown bear population could be harvested and still be considered sustainable is an ongoing one, Miller said.

“We’ve always harvested five percent or less in previous years,” he said. “The population has remained stable or slightly increased.”

The emergency closure will be in effect for 30 days, although by the end of it most of the bears will have begun their hibernation for the season.

“It effectively shuts down the rest of the brown bear hunt for this season,” Miller said.

In the interim, Fish and Wildlife Service officials plan to have a series of meetings with the public to determine the best way to move forward with management.

“As it has in previous years, the Service envisions developing and eventually implementing harvest parameters after appropriate public input and review, in an effort to ensure that harvests remain sustainable and which focus on adequately protecting adult female bears for the healthy reproduction of the brown bear population on the Kenai Peninsula,” Morton said according to the media release.

Reach Rashah McChesney at rashah.mcchesney@peninsulaclarion.com

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potomac
191
Points
potomac 10/26/13 - 05:35 pm
2
0
it wasn't broke so move back

It seems once again the fate of the game on the Pen. is up to a board of dopes. Go back to the original plan given you years ago by the real BEAR experts, otherwise you will kill off these great bears

AKNATUREGUY
295
Points
AKNATUREGUY 10/26/13 - 07:47 pm
2
0
THE BOARD OF GAME

THE ALASKA BOARD OF GAME IS A BUNCH OF OBSOLETE NON-SCIENTIFIC DRUG STORE COWBOYS! THEY WILL PROMOTE THE KILLING OF WILDLIFE AT ANY COST WITHOUT THE CONSIDERATION OF SUSTAINABLE POPULATIONS.

THE KILLING OF WOLVES BY AIRCRAFT HERE ON THE KENAI PENINSULA IS ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF THE BOONDOGGLE POLITICS OF THIS BOARD OF GAME.

THIS BARBARIC AND ARCHAIC METHOD OF GAME MANAGEMENT IN ALASKA MUST CHANGE IF WILDLIFE POPULATIONS ARE TO SURVIVE!

bigtalkahh
184
Points
bigtalkahh 10/27/13 - 03:23 pm
2
0
Appalling

This article ruined my day. Are you kidding? Sixty-six brown bears killed on the Peninsula this year? I used to work for Doug Vincent-Lang. The only supervisor that I've ever had who I did not like or get along with very well. I have very little good to say about him or his work. So glad that the refuge people have closed their land to hunting brown bears. They have earned my respect... at least for today.

AKNATUREGUY
295
Points
AKNATUREGUY 10/27/13 - 04:02 pm
2
0
KENAI NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE

The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge has every right to regulate hunting activities within it's border. I applaud the Kenai Refuge for closing the bear hunting after so many bears have been taken.

If it were left up to the State of Alaska regulators, they would kill every last bear on the peninsula. The State of Alaska, Fish & Game Department, does not manage the fish or wildlife resources by sustainable yield. Just look at what they have done to the King Salmon population in the Kenai River or the moose population on the Kenai Peninsula.

I suspect vehicle collisions to be one of the biggest limiting factors in the moose population on the Kenai Peninsula. Yet, Alaska Fish & Game does nothing at all to study this aspect or promote highway underground migration routes or elevated migration routes; as other States do. Instead, AK F & G blames the declining moose population on wolves and spends hundreds of thousands of $$$$$ gunning down these animals from airplanes and helicopters; like they were some monsters from otter space. The Board of Game and Alaska Fish & Game refuse to accept fish & game management as an ecosystem approach.

THANK YOU KENAI NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE!

wilsonro
100
Points
wilsonro 10/29/13 - 08:14 am
0
1
Closer Federal land only

Evidently you people don’t get out much, there is way too many brown bears out there, they have had no real season for over twenty + years. With no wild fires in units 15A/B for a long period of time the moose have been having a hard time finding feed, especially in the winter. When you throw the large population of Brown bears in with that it makes for a bad situation for the moose. The state biologist in my opinion are doing the right thing, the feds don’t have a clue. I guess people will always have something to --tch about. I am glad the hunting is still open on state and private land.

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