Hunters who have been itching to bag a brown bear may be in luck this season after the hunt was called off before it began the last few years.
The brown bear registration hunt in Game Management Units 7 and 15 has been replaced with a drawing permit hunt, said Jeff Selinger, area wildlife biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Soldotna. Applications are being accepted until the end of May.
The decision to change the nature of the hunt was made by the Alaska Board of Game during meetings held earlier this year. Selinger said the change will hopefully result in bears from being harvested, rather than just killed. In the past he peninsula’s brown bear hunt was managed based on a three-year average of human-caused mortalities that aimed to not exceed 20 total bears, or exceed eight female bears older than one year. In three of the last five years the hunt was cancelled before opening day due to too many nonhunting, human-caused bear mortalities.
Under the new regulations, there will be two time slots, a fall portion of the hunt from Oct. 1 through Nov. 30, and a spring portion from April 1 through June 15. Once a permit is drawn, it will be good for the whole regulatory year, July 1 to June 30.
Selinger said this will be good news to hunters because if the recent trend of people killing bears in defense of life and property continues, the fall portion of the hunt may be closed by emergency order. But now, since the department starts its count of human-caused bear mortalities on Jan. 1, permit-winners will have an opportunity to hunt during the spring season.
“The spring hunt is almost guaranteed,” he said.
If the fall hunt is not cancelled, hunters will not be restricted to choosing between the two slots. They will get to double their chances of success.
“Permit holders can hunt both time slots, but they still can only harvest one bear,” Selinger said.
Under the new regulations, Game Management Units 7 and 15 will de divided into five areas for the purpose of hunting brown bears. Detailed explanations and maps of these areas can be found in Fish and Game’s 2007-2008 Alaska Spring Permit Hunt Supplement.
The greatest number of permits will be issued where the majority of defense of life and property killings have occurred typically population centers, while fewer permits will be issued for the peninsula’s more remote areas. This equates to seven permits for the western hunt area, which roughly starts at Captain Cook State Park north of Nikiski and runs south to Homer, with Cook Inlet as the western border and Kenai National Wildlife Refuge boundary the eastern border.
There also will be five permits issued for the Seward hunt area, which runs roughly from Resurrection Bay north to the Sterling Highway and is bordered on the west by the Kenai Fjords National Park boundary and the Russian River, and on the east by Game management Unit 7.
Two permits each will be issued for the three remaining hunt areas that make up roughly the rest of the peninsula the Northeast Kenai Mountains area, the Flats area and the Central Peninsula area.
The application deadline for the brown bear drawing permit hunt is May 31. For more information, contact Fish and Game at 262-9368.
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