Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

AK: Brown Bear Control Program Approved in Unit 16B

Juneau – On a split 4-3 vote today, the Board of Game approved a
proposal to add an experimental brown bear removal to a portion of
an existing predation control area in part of Unit 16B in
southcentral Alaska. Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G)
staff plan to implement the program this spring.

The program is the latest action in efforts to enhance moose
harvest in GMU16, an important area for subsistence and general
hunting. The control program is confined to a small portion of
GMU16B, approximately 40 miles southwest of Anchorage near the
villages of Tyonek and Beluga.

Range conditions are excellent resulting in very high pregnancy
rates and body condition of moose, but 80 percent of moose calves
die during their first summer according to research. Predation has
limited recovery of the population which declined due to a series
of deep snow winters in the 1990s.

“We know that brown bears are taking large numbers of calves.
Research last summer indicates 47 percent of the calves that die
are killed by brown bears,” said Lem Butler, ADF&G Region IV
Management Supervisor. “Black bears killed 21 percent and the
remainder died from a variety of causes including drowning and
unknown predators.”

The bear control program involves issuing permits to qualified
members of the public to take black bears and brown bears over bait
or with foot snares in order to increase moose calf survival on the
west side of Cook Inlet. Aircraft can be used to access the bait
stations or snares, but not to spot and take free roaming brown
bears.

The board has previously authorized snaring and baiting for
harvesting black bears, which has proven to be an extremely
effective method of take. The board decided to extend the same
baiting and foot-snaring methods to reduce brown bears in the 900
square mile experimental area.

“It is very much an adaptive experiment,” said regional
supervisor Bruce Dale. “The effectiveness of reducing both bear
species through harvest methods to increase moose calf survival has
not been demonstrated.”

The department will closely monitor the bear control efforts
that will be conducted by Alaskan residents. Participants must
attend department training to qualify for taking bears with foot
snares.

In an effort to increase moose populations, wolf reduction
efforts began in 2004 resulting in higher winter survival of
calves. In 2007, the board liberalized bear regulations to reduce
bear numbers in order to increase spring and summer calf
survival.

 

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