Sunday, October 28, 2007

Game Board Meets in Bethel November 9-12

The Alaska Board of Game is meeting November 9-12, 2007 at the Yup’iit Piciryarait Cultural Center in Bethel. The Board will be looking at more than 50 proposals dealing with hunting and trapping regulations in the Arctic and Western regions of the Alaska.

The deadline for written comments on the regulation proposals was October 26. Oral testimony will be taken beginning Friday, November 9.

See the ADF&G press release for complete details.

Winter Draw Hunt Application Period Nov 1 - Dec 6

The Alaska winter drawing hunt period is November 1 - December 6. The drawing permit hunt supplement is now available on the ADF&G website, and should be available from license vendors in late October.

Deer Closure in SE Alaska Not Planned, But Heavy Snows Could Change Plans

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game in a recent news release said that it has no plans no to close the deer hunting season in SE Alaska Game Management Units 1 and 4, as some have asked. Deer numbers are down from the heavy snows of the winter of 2006/2007, but the hunt has not been changed.

The news release pointed out that early and heavy snowfalls in October and November could force a re-evaluation of the hunting regulations. If that is the case, the state will make hunters aware through the news media.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Mountain Goat Registration Permit Hunts Close Near Anchorage

Mountain goat registration permit hunts RG868 and RG878 in the Twentymile drainage of GMU14(C) closed October 18 by emergency order.

The 6 "goat units" harvest objective has been reached with a harvest of 6 billies.

Read the ADFG emergency order >>>

Canada Goose Hunting Closed on Portion of Kodiak

An ADF&G emergency order has closed the NE portion of Kodiak Island in GMU 8 (the Kodiak archipelago) to hunting for Canada geese.

The Cananda goose population translocated there in 1987 has grown enough for a limited hunt, but the EO says that additional harvest at this point could result in reduced future hunting opportunity.

Read the entire ADFG emergency order >>>

Afognak Registration Elk Hunt to Partially Open 23 October

The Alaska Department of Fish & Game has announced that elk hunting will open on most of Kodiak Island on October 23, 2007 for hunters who have registration permits. In addition to Afognak, Kodiak, Shuyak and Ban islands are included in the opening. The SE portion of Afognak will be closed.

Raspberry Island elk hunting is drawing permit only.

Read the entire ADFG news release >>>

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Goat Hunting Partially Closed Near Haines

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has closed mountain goat hunting in a portion of GMU 1D near the city of Haines effective October 16, 2007.

The area closed is a portion of the Takshanuk Mountains from the NW saddle between Mt. Tukgahgo to the city of Haines.

The harvest objective has been reached, the emergency order indicated.

Read the ADFG Emergency Order >>>

ADFG Weighs In on Katmai Bear Hunts Question

The Alaska Division of Wildlife Conservation has produced online information about the brown bear hunts in Katmai National Preserve as a result of substantial attention to this in the media in recent weeks.

The ADFG information points out that bear populations in the area are carefully monitored and are healthy. The agency says a conservative harvest strategy in the area has resulted in high numbers of bears that area used by both viewers and hunters.

The agency information page also discussed fair chase and whether these human habituated bears have been taken in an ethical manner.

Unakwik Inlet Goat Hunt in GMU 6D Now Closed

Cordova area mountain goat registration hunt RG252 closed at the end of the day October 16, according to a news release from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The area affected includes only a portion of GMU 6D west of Columbia Glacier and east of Unakwik Inlet.

The allowable harvest in the area was set at 13 goats. At the time of the closure announcement, the harvest was at 11 goats, including 1 nanny. Nannies count as 2 goats.

Read the entire ADFG News Release >>>

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Nelchina WinterTier II Caribou Hunt Nixed

The winter Tier II hunt for Nelchina caribou has been closed according to a report published by the Fairbanks Daily News Miner.

The paper reported ADFG staff in Glennallen had decided to close the hunt at the end of the fall season because approximately 1,000 caribou had been harvested, and the herd was still somewhat below the population objective.

Read the entire article in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner >>>

Valdez Goat Hunt RG249 Closed 13 October

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced that Valdez Area mountain goat registration permit hunt RG249 closed at the end of the day on October 13.

The harvest quota has been met according to ADFG staff.

Read the ADFG News Release here >>>

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Mt. Goat Hunt RG868 Closed

Mountain goat hunting in the Twentymile area (registration hunt RG868) closed on October 12, 2007. ADFG staff reported that 6 "mountain goat units" had been taken; in this case 6 billies.

Read the news release from ADFG >>>

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Channel 2 Says It Is Not Guilty In Hunter Harassment Charge

Anchorage Channel 2 TV has responded with a "not guilty" to charges that it interfered with a lawful hunt in the Katmai Preserve. Charges of hunter harassment have been filed with the Alaska Wildlife Troopers against a Channel 2 news team as a result of a filmed news story of a bear hunt now being shown on YouTube.

Channel 2 News says it "took no editorial stance in its coverage and presented opinions from the hunting guide, Alaska Fish and Game, the National Park Service, and a group of people opposed to the hunt, whom we accompanied to the Preserve."

The organization also responded to the criticism that accompanying those who opposed the hunt was an editorial decision in itself, by writing "we have never been provided the opportunity to witness such a hunting trip with a guide, and once in the area, we provided every opportunity for the hunters and their guides to explain their perspective."

Channel 2 also said that the hunters involved were very aggressive, threatening, armed and intimidating to their crew.

Board Maintains Nelchina Subsistence Hunt

The Alaska Joint Board of Fisheries and Game has derailed a Mat-Su Advisory Committee proposal that would have created a GMU 13 non-subsistence area, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

The proposal, if enacted into regulation would have allowed all Alaska hunters to have equal access to the caribou in a substantial portion of the Nelchina basin.

The paper reported that the proposal was the subject of great concern in rural communities.

Read the entire story in the Anchorage Daily News >>>

Monday, October 08, 2007

SE Alaska Deer Hunt Underway Despite Reduced Deer Numbers

Cold weather and deep snow took a serious toll on SE Alaska deer during the 2006/2007 winter, but the deer season is proceeding, but Alaska Wildlife News says state biologists are keeping a wary eye on the population.

The effect on deer was not as severe in southern SE Alaska, a companion article reported.

Board to Tackle Nelchina NonSubsistence Area Proposal

The Alaska Board of Game will consider today eliminating or sending forward a proposal by the Mat-Su Fish & Game Advisory Committee. The proposal will not be decided today, but the Board can decide to keep it or eliminate it from consideration at a 2008 meeting.

The proposal would designate a substantial portion of the Nelchina Basin as a non-subsistence area, which would allow all Alaskans an equal opportunity to participate in hunting caribou in the desirable area.

The Anchorage Daily News reports that "The proposal has many Alaska Natives and residents of a few Copper River basin communities in an uproar over their subsistence privileges."

Read the entire article in the Anchorage Daily News. >>>

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Katmai Area Bear Hunt Youtubed

In a front page story, the Anchorage Daily News reports a legal bear hunt in Katmai National Park Preserve has been filmed by a Homer videographer and then uploaded to the popular video website YouTube. The paper predicts the apparent ease of taking the bear in an area where substantial bear watching occurs will again inflame anti hunting sentiments.

The video is being discussed in the Katmai Grizz thread on the Alaska Hunting Forum.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

California Congressman Wants Aerial Shooting Ban

Congressman George Miller (D-Calif) wants to halt the use of aircraft in the taking of wolves and other wildlife by blocking an exemption in existing federal legislation that allows states to use aircraft to take wildlife in the administration of wildlife.

Miller's legislation, the "Protect America's Wildlife Act" or PAW act was introduced by Miller along with Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), the dean of the House and floor manager of the debate on the original Airborne Hunting Act, and Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA), the chair of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee.

The legislation's sponsors did not suggest alternate methods for managing predator populations, even in situations where depressed game populations could hurt subsistence harvests.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

AOC Backs Nonsubsistence Area Extension, Advisory Committee Participation

The Alaska Outdoor Council is highlighting two issues that will come before the state's Joint Boards of Fisheries and Game on October 5. One would make much of GMU 13 non subsistence.

From an AOC email alert from Rod Arno:

Connect the Anchorage-Matsu-Kenai Nonsubsistence Area with the Fairbanks Nonsubsistence Area

In 1992 the Alaska Legislature passed the state subsistence law which gives the Joint Board of Fisheries and Game the authority to create Nonsubsistence Areas. A Nonsubsistence Area is an area or community where subsistence is not the principal characteristic of the economy, culture, and way of life.

New data gathered in the 2000 U.S. Census and by ADF&G Subsistence Division illustrates significant socio-economic and cultural change in the Nelchina Basin area of GMU 13.

The Mat-Valley F&G Advisory Committee has submitted Proposal #38 (proposal text, proposal map, PDF) in an effort to update the characteristics determining the Nonsubsistence designation in GMU 13.

Over 60% of Tier II applicants each year apply for Nelchina caribou. Competition for these permits has resulted in the Board of Game deliberating on scores of proposals over the years in addition to numerous court challenges. Tier II scoring for Nelchina caribou subsistence permits has become the single most contentious issue before the Board of Game.

The AOC believes that it is timely and appropriate for the Joint Board to review the criteria they have relied on to make their determination of non-subsistence in GMU 13 as proposed by the Mat Valley AC in Proposal 38.
Advisory Committee Participation During Board deliberations
Fish & Game Advisory Committee participation is embodied in state law. Fish & Game Advisory Committee members are elected from their communities to represent the views of area residents before the boards.

Boards often amend proposals, sometimes significantly. In the board process as currently constructed, public testimony – including input from the AC’s – is given before the board’s deliberations. As a result, local residents’ voice is never heard on the final version of the proposal – the one the Board actually votes on.

The AOC supports Proposal #34, submitted by the Fairbanks F&G Advisory Committee, to allow the chairman of the local AC to address the Board on an amended proposal, and urge public support for this initiative. Without public support I wouldn’t imagine the Joint Boards will give this concept much consideration.
All proposals can be seen on the ADFG/Boards website. Written comments are due 21 September. The Joint Boards meeting begins 5 October in Anchorage.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Interactive Alaska Outdoors Encyclopedia Launched

The Alaska Outdoors Wiki, an interactive encyclopedia has launched on the Alaska Outdoors Supersite (tm). A wiki is a set of web pages that can be added to and edited by users. The largest collection of current articles relate to Alaska hunting, although there are a few useful articles in other subject areas as well.

The concept of the Alaska Outdoors Wiki is to provide a user developed compilation of outdoor information specific to Alaska. The point of this wiki is for outdoors people to share how and why information about Alaska outdoors subjects.

The most famous example of a wiki is the Wikipedia, a huge encyclopedia with thousands of articles covering a wide swath human knowledge in multiple languages. The Alaska Outdoors Wiki uses the same software as Wikipedia.

There are 37 articles now on the Alaska Outdoors Wiki, although a few of them are just beginning stubs. Here are the current articles:

ATV / ORV trails Alaska boat launching facilities
Bear baiting Black bear hunting Boating
Boots Bowhunting Canoeing
Caribou hunting Climbing Conservation
Dog Mushing Field care Fishing
Float Hunting Flying Four wheeling
Hiking Hunting Interior Alaska Hunting
Jonesville mine, Eska Falls Jonesville mine, Eska Falls. Sutton Main Page
Maps Moose hunting Mountain Biking
Outdoors photography Rafting Road Hunting
Sitka Hunting Skiing Snowshoeing
Southcentral Alaska Hunting Southeast Alaska Hunting Tents
Where to Start Rafting in Alaska

Visitors who are not forum members can contact to obtain authorization to edit the wiki.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Vigilantes Targeting Bird Creek Bears?

Three bears shot and left to rot near Bird Creek has some area residents and biologists wondering if vigilantes are targeting bears in a population that seems to be growing, according to the Anchorage Daily News:
Area wildlife biologist Rick Sinnott with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said the summer started with two bears being found dead and dumped off Konickson Road, off the Seward Highway. Just this weekend, the carcass of a shot-dead black bear was discovered on a beach near Bird Point. "These are ones that were found,'' he added. "There were probably others that were shot, and we didn't hear about it.''
An estimated 250 black bears and 60 grizzlies inhabit the area between Knik Arm and Portage, which includes built up area of Anchorage, the paper reported.

Monday, August 27, 2007

State Approves $400K for Wolf Control Education

Legislators have provided $400,000 to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for educatating Alaskans about predator management in the state, a move decried by wolf management foes as propaganda, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

State Fish and Game commissioner Denby Lloyd has indicated that the funds will be used for two publications that will help Alaskans understand the science behind predator management programs. (See Understanding Predator/Prey Management in the Summer 2007 issue of Outdoor Alaska, the newsletter of the Alaska Outdoor Council.

Foes of the state's predator management programs are calling the educational efforts, requested by state senator Charlie Huggins of Wasilla, propaganda designed to defeat another effort to halt wolf control.

Read the entire article in the Anchorage Daily News >>>

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Fall Kenai Brown Bear Drawing Hunts Closed

From an ADFG News Release:

The fall portion of the drawing permit hunts for brown bear on the Kenai Peninsula has been closed by an Alaska Department of Fish and Game emergency order.

Hunts DB301, DB303, DB305, DB307 and DB309 in GMUs 7 & 15 are closed effective September 15, 2007.

The hunts were closed due to human caused mortality greater than management guidelines permit.

Read the entire news release >>>

Friday, August 17, 2007

State Offers Clinic on Moose Antlers

Alaska Department of Fish and Game staff and Wildlife Troopers are offering their second annual Moose Antler Clinic to provide moose hunters more practice on judging legal moose, the Anchorage Daily News reports.

The clinic will be 10 AM - 6 PM August 18 and 19 at the Department of Transportation lot on Springer Loop Road near the Palmer Fairgrounds.

Sheep hunters are also offered an opportunity to come and look at sheep horns to better understand what is legal.

Read the entire article in the Anchorage Daily News >>>

Fairbanks Daily News Miner Hunting Edition Online

The Fairbanks Daily News Miner has published its annual hunting edition in an online format. The special supplement covers moose hunting, caribou news, Tier II, Delta bison, grouse, hunter education, drawing and Tier II permits.

Among other news, the paper is reporting that 30% or more of Alaska's moose harvest may come from Interior Alaska Game Management Unit 20.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

ADFG Releases Brief Upland Game Status Report

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has released a brief status report on upland game in Alaska.

The report covers three species each of grouse and ptarmigan (but not blue grouse) and snowshoe hare.

Generally, populations are cyclically down. The bright spot in the picture painted in this snapshot is increasing populations of ruffed grouse translocated to SC Alaska in the late `80s and early `90s.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Southern Alaska Peninsula Caribou Herd in Trouble

The Southern Alaska Caribou herd is faring so poorly this year that all hunting there, including subsistence hunting, has been prohibited, according to Alaska Wildlife News. The agency believes that any harvest of either bulls or cows would be detrimental to the herd. The herd could now be as small as 600 animals, a drop from 4,200 animals in 2002.

Read the entire article in Alaska Wildlife News >>>

SE Alaska Deer Winter Stressed but Season to Open

Last winter's record breaking snowfall was tough on SE Alaska's Sitka black-tailed deer, but the hunting season is opening as usual, according to Alaska Wildlife News. The Department of Fish and Game is asking hunters to concentrate on bucks and fawns to protect the reproductive capacity of the deer.

Not only was snow early and deep, but it persisted longer than usual. Deer are able to find shelter in old growth timber stands where the trees hold much of the snowfall. But if the snow keeps falling, the browse plants they require are eventually covered. When this happens deer move to the beaches where there is little food but the ability to move about.

The agency is asking hunters to target bucks and fawns and to avoid taking does.

Read the entire article in Alaska Wildlife News >>>

Friday, August 03, 2007

USFWS Releases Waterfowl Hunt Summary

From a USFWS news release:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently issued a new report summarizing sport hunter activity and harvest for the 2006 waterfowl season. The reports shows more than 13.8 million ducks were harvested, up more than a million ducks from the previous season. Hunters also harvested nearly 3.6 million geese, down slightly the previous season.

Managing migratory bird populations and providing opportunities for people to enjoy nature are each among the six priorities the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has established to guide its actions. Sport-hunting surveys like the current report, which gauges the health of waterfowl species and provides data for setting hunting seasons and bag limits, serve both of these goals.

The Service bases the estimates contained in the annual waterfowl harvest report upon hunting diary surveys maintained by selected waterfowl hunters, through the cooperative State-Federal Harvest Information Program and the Waterfowl Parts Collection Survey. These surveys provide critically important information used by state wildlife agencies and the Service to establish the next hunting season and maintain healthy waterfowl populations.

In Alaska, more than 65,000 ducks were harvested by sport hunters, down from nearly 75,000 in the previous season. The sport-hunted goose harvest, at 7,500, was up from 5,500 in 2005.

Nationally, duck hunters spent about 6.8 million days in the field, compared with 6.5 million days of duck hunting the previous season. Hunters spent more than 4 million days hunting geese, which is similar to the previous season. Mallards were the most prevalent duck in the bag for hunters in the United States, with nearly 4.7 million birds harvested last season. Other species popular among waterfowlers were green winged teal with nearly 1.7 million birds harvested; gadwall with more than 1.5 million harvested; wood duck, at more than 1 million harvested; and blue winged teal, with more than 940,000 harvested.

The waterfowl hunter activity and harvest estimates for the 2006 hunting season are available on the Service's web site. Recent survey data on the subsistence harvest of waterfowl in Alaska can be seen as well.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 97-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 547 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign and Native American tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Federal Subsistence Board Closes Federal Lands in Unit 9D to Caribou Hunting

From a USFWS News Release:

The Federal Subsistence Board has approved an Emergency Special Action to close Federal public lands in Unit 9D on the lower Alaska Peninsula to the harvest of caribou from Aug. 1 to Sept. 30. The Board's action follows similar action by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Current surveys of the Southern Alaska Peninsula Caribou Herd in Unit 9D show a marked decrease in both population and calf survival. The herd began its decline during the early 1980s. Poor nutrition is believed to be the primary factory causing the decline, although human harvest and predation by wolves and brown bears have also factored into the decline.

The 2007 draft plan for management of the Southern Alaska Peninsula Caribou Herd sets a population goal of 3,000 to 3,500 animals and calls for closure to hunting when the herd falls below 850-875 animals. In a 2006 survey, Izembek National Wildlife Refuge staff observed only 770 animals.

Both Federal and State regulatory managers concur that the decline of the caribou population in Unit 9D poses a potentially significant conservation concern that warrants the closure to hunting.

For additional information, contact Dan LaPlant at the Office of Subsistence Management (907) 786-3871 or (800) 478-1456 or Sandra Siekaniec at the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge at (907) 532-2445.

Revised Tier II Results Available

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has produced revised Tier II permit hunt results after this month's court decision that forced a new scoring system. The revised results can be found on the ADFG website, and more information about the reasons behind the re-scoring can be found in the Anchorage Daily News.

ADFG explained the change in a news release.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Palin Signs Bill to Prohibit Internet Hunting

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin on July 3, 2007 signed a bill sponsored by Anchorage representative Bob Buch that prohibits "internet hunting." This so-called hunting practice allows Internet users to fire real bullets at real game in a remote location. It has been banned in a number of other states.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Resilience of Bears Suggests Alaskans Should Consider New Management Options: Former ADFG Biologist

Former ADFG biologist Patrick Valkenburg writing in the Alaska Outdoor Council newsletter Outdoor Alaska says that Alaska bears are more resilient than previously believed, and more management possibilities exist than have been used in recent decades.

"In the past, many biologists have described bears; particularly grizzlies, as a “slowly reproducing” species that must be carefully managed to prevent overharvest, and have recommended restricting allowable harvests to 4 or 5 percent of population size, preferably mostly males. Despite abundant, sound data to the contrary, this “truism” about bears appears in print regularly, both in technical scientific articles and in the popular press. Many biologists are now beginning to realize that bears are not unlike other species and sustainable harvest rates are highly variable, can often exceed 15%, and depend on the abundance of bear food and immigration from surrounding areas. Hunted bear populations on the Alaska Peninsula and Unit 13 have been shown to be more productive than adjacent unhunted populations and sows in the hunted populations reproduce earlier, and have more cubs. Cub survival is generally also higher in hunted populations (cub mortality is primarily caused by adult males killing cubs). Thus, bear populations “compensate” for heavy hunting with better reproduction and higher cub survival."

Valkenburg suggests that while active management involving only wolf reduction has been effective in some areas, in other areas, bear numbers must also be substantially reduced to achieve similar results. He suggests black bear trapping - well accepted in areas of the USA East Coast - should be considered by Alaskans.

Read the entire article in Outdoor Alaska (PDF 2.6 mb)

Monday, June 18, 2007

AOC Says Musk Ox on North Slope in Trouble

The Alaska Outdoor Council (AOC) today published on it's website a heavily viewed video of a North Slope muskox herd from which a grizzly bear apparently kills two calves. In text accompanying the video a biologist writes "....there are no muskoxen left there (ANWR) now. Yeah, that's right. Zero. This predatory behavior pattern has also now spread to Unit 26B, and I'm predicting that within about 5 years, muskoxen will be gone from the slope except for a few straggling bulls. Now that the problem is in 26B, and almost entirely on state land, we need to take action."

The AOC page says 15 years ago the North Slope supported about 600 muskoxen -- and a small, but "highly sought-after" hunt. The problem appears to be related to grizzly bears which biologists and other observers believe to have specialized in muskox predation.

The Council is asking members "to express concern over bear predation on musk ox on the North Slope to Gov. Palin and the Congressional delegation."

Feds Open Yukon Delta to Moose Hunt

The Federal Subsistence Board's decision to open a large area of the Yukon drainage to both local and non-local moose hunting is causing concern among Kuskokwim Delta hunters, the Anchorage Daily News reports.

Read the entire article in the Anchorage Daily News >>>

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Brown Shirts Coming Back

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has fulfilled a campaign pledge to restore the Alaska Division of Fish and Wildlife Protection, according to the Anchorage Daily News. Her predecessor in the Governor's mansion, Frank Murkowski, had merged the fish and wildlife law enforcement function of the Department of Public Safety into the Division of State Troopers and tasked troopers with enforcing all laws. The move was widely criticized in the outdoors community where a substantial reduction in fish and wildlife enforcement efforts was predicted and observed.

The paper reported Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan as saying that "part of the problem with the merged departments was that officers who were supposed to be focused on wildlife were not able to devote enough attention to that aspect of their jobs because of their law enforcement obligations. The separation should help resolve that, he said.

"They'll still be doing some blue shirt work, but their primary focus is now back to wildlife enforcement, which is what they need to be (doing)," he said."

Read the entire story in the Anchorage Daily News >>>

Fish and Game Proposes Moving Forward With Wood Bison Restoration

From an ADFG News Release:

ADF&G has completed an Environmental Review of the possibility of restoring wood bison in Alaska and is seeking public comment on a proposal to more forward with the project.

The Environmental Review concludes that wood bison restoration can be accomplished with minimal or no negative environmental impacts, and would enhance the diversity of Alaska’s wildlife resources and provide significant benefits to people.

A newsletter and comment forms are available on the ADF&G website or at ADF&G offices. Comments are welcome through June 30, 2007. This is an important time for interested people to let the department know their thoughts on whether the project should move forward, and, if so, which area or areas should be considered first,” said ADF&G wildlife planner Randy Rogers.

The report evaluates possible wood bison restoration on Yukon Flats, Minto Flats and in the lower Innoko/Yukon River area, all of which have been identified as having suitable habitat. It is possible that wood bison could eventually be restored in one, two or all three areas.

The Environmental Review also identifies several major issues that must be adequately addressed in order for the project to succeed. These include concerns about the status of wood bison under the Endangered Species Act, disease testing and health certification requirements for wood bison stock and future allocation of hunting opportunities.

The Minto-Nenana, Tanana-Manley-Rampart, and Grayling-Anvik-Shageluk-Holy Cross Advisory Committees have unanimously endorsed wood bison restoration in their areas. The Fairbanks Advisory Committee is currently working on detailed comments and recommendations on the Environmental Review

According to Bob Stephenson, Wood Bison Project Biologist and member of Canada’s Wood Bison Recovery Team, “wood bison restoration in Alaska would make a significant contribution to international wood bison conservation efforts.”

If public support for the project continues as it has in the past, ADF&G hopes to import 40-50 wood bison calves from Elk Island National Park in Canada next winter and could begin releasing wood bison into the wild in 2010 or 2011.

A small herd of wood bison has been held at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage, and includes five calves that have been born so far this spring. ADF&G is working in partnership with AWCC to develop additional holding facilities.

The concept of wood bison restoration originated in the early 1990’s on the Yukon Flats, where Athabascan elders provide historic accounts about bison and numerous wood bison bones have been found. Wood bison remains have been found in other parts of the interior, and one specimen was found in the Anchorage area. The most recent reported sightings of wood bison occurred around 1900. ADF&G has worked with local villages, the Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments and others for over 10 years to consider wood bison restoration on the Yukon Flats, which offers extensive high quality habitat. In 2002 the project was expanded to consider other areas in interior Alaska.

The complete report and a newsletter that summarizes key points can be found on the internet. Copies of the newsletter can be obtained from the Fairbanks office of ADF&G (459-7313).

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Kodiak Deer Hard Hit by Winter

Up to 10,000 deer may have perished during the 2006/2007 winter according to Kodiak Area Biologist Larry VanDaele, as reported by KTVA in Anchorage.

Winter mortality was worst on the north end of the island where perhaps 80% of the deer died. Winter kill is not infrequent among Alaska deer, and in the winter of 1998/1999 as many as 75,000 deer may have died.

The hunting season will likely not be changed, but deer may be harder to locate on the north end of the island.

Read the story on >>>

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Governor Palin Introduces Bill to Streamline Predator Management Laws

From an ADFG News Release dated 11 May 2007:

Governor Sarah Palin has introduced a bill in the State House and Senate that will simplify and clarify Alaska’s intensive management law for big game and the state's "same day airborne hunting" law. “I have said many times that my administration is committed to management of game for abundance, and to a proactive, science-based predator management program where appropriate,” said the Governor. “The bill I am introducing will give the Board of Game and state wildlife managers the tools they need to actively manage important game herds and help thousands of Alaskan families put food on their tables.”

The bill, House Bill 256 and Senate Bill 176, clarifies and simplifies the language of what is known as the “intensive management” law (AS 16.05.255 (e-g)), which requires the Alaska Board of Game to adopt regulations to restore populations of moose, caribou and deer in parts of the state where they have been depleted over time. During the last four winters, the state has been conducting predator control programs in some areas to build up moose and caribou herds.

“We have had good success in achieving lower wolf densities in the predator control areas during the first few years of the programs,” said Matt Robus, Director of the Division of Wildlife Conservation in the Department of Fish and Game. “There are now indications in our longest-established programs that moose populations are responding well to reduced levels of predation, and this will directly affect the harvestable surplus so that people will be able to harvest these animals for subsistence and personal use.”

The Governor’s bill clarifies state law that requires the Board of Game to implement regulations to help manage important game herds for both abundant numbers and abundant opportunities for Alaskans to harvest game. In addition, the bill uses the new term "active management,” which is broader and is used in place of "intensive management." The bill also would eliminate several current requirements that have proven to be problematic for both the Board and the courts, and definitions that vary from existing usage within the wildlife management profession.

HB256/SB176 takes two laws that were written to achieve almost exactly opposite purposes and harmonizes them so that the state's game managers, the courts, and the public will have less trouble understanding how they work together and the legal requirements that apply in each situation. The important principle of limiting use of airborne and same day airborne shooting of large predators is retained, while the process for conducting game management programs critical to meeting the state's constitutional mandates is made simpler, more workable, and more legally defensible.

Governor Palin said she is introducing the bill at this time because she wants to generate discussion on the important issues related to predator reduction as a component of abundance-based management. “I understand that the legislature doesn’t have time to give this bill a committee hearing before the end of this session,” she said. “I want Alaskans to look at this new language over the summer and fall, debate the issues and urge their legislators to pass the bill into law early next year.”

ATVs to be Restricted in Wrangell St. Elias Preserve

A court settlement is restricting ATV use on three trails in the north part of the Wrangell St Elias National Park and Preserve except when the ground is frozen, according to the Anchorage Daily News. The Park Service must review ATV use for compatibility with purposes of the Park unit by 2010.

Mostly sport hunters will be affected by the settlement. Local hunters able to hunt under federal subsistence rules will continue to be able to use the trails, the paper reported.

"The three trails are the Copper Lake, Tanada Lake and Suslota Lake trails. Those are in boggy areas, according to the Park Service, and NCPA (National Parks Conservation Association) contends that those were the most damaged by ATVs."

Read the entire article in the Anchorage Daily News >>>

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Federal Subsistence Board Approves Changes to Hunting Regulations

From a USFWS News Release:

The Federal Subsistence Board approved changes to Federal subsistence hunting and trapping regulations at its April 30-May 2 meeting in Anchorage. The new regulations are effective July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2008. Among the changes:
  • The Board lifted closures to hunting by non-federally qualified hunters for moose in the Yukon River drainage portion of Unit 18; for moose on federal public lands in the Brevig Mission/Teller area of Unit 22D; for moose in most of Unit 26B in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; and for sheep on federal public lands in a portion of the Arctic Village Management Area of Unit 25A. These closures are being lifted because these populations have improved.
  • The Board adopted proposals to extend the moose hunting season for federally qualified hunters in the Yukon River drainage portion of Unit 18 and increased the harvest limit for moose in most of Unit 26B in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, due to improved moose populations in these areas. The Board also approved regulatory changes to provide additional opportunities to hunt moose in part of Unit 21B in the Western Interior; in part of Unit 12 in the Eastern Interior; in Unit 9E on the Alaska Peninsula; and in Unit 26A on the North Slope.
  • The Board recognized the customary and traditional use by Ninilchik residents of black bear on federal public lands in Unit 15 on the Kenai Peninsula and brown bear for Ninilchik residents on federal public lands in Unit 15C and established federal seasons and harvest limits for these hunts.
  • The Board reduced the harvest limit for the Mulchatna Caribou Herd in Unit 9 and Unit 17, from five caribou to three, due to a steep decline in the population of the herd.
These regulations apply only on Federal public lands. Only rural Alaska residents may harvest wildlife under Federal subsistence regulations. For further information on Federal subsistence hunting and trapping, please consult the Federal subsistence wildlife harvest regulations book, which will be available at vendors, Federal field offices, the Office of Subsistence Management, and on the Web in late June. For additional information, contact Dan LaPlant at (907) 786-3871 or (800) 478-1456.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

650 Alaska Moose Killed in Vehicle Collisions Since July

At least 650 moose have died in vehicle collisions around Alaska, the Anchorage Daily News reports. Most died in southcentral Alaska in automobile accidents, but others were killed along the Alaska Railroad and along Interior Alaska roads.

Winter is the worst time, according to the article, but another spike in deaths occurs as summer traffic increases in late May and June. Calves often follow their mothers across a road, and unwary travelers may strike them.

Road kills are up in the Mat/Su area, and down on the Kenai. Nearly 100 moose have died along Anchorage area roads, and two more months remain in the regulatory year, which is the basis for comparison of counts.

Read the entire article in the Anchorage Daily News >>>

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Wood Bison Restoration Project Gathers Momentum

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game on April 17 announced completion of "Wood Bison Restoration in Alaska: A Review of Environmental and Regulatory Issues and Proposed Decisions for Project Implementation". This step clears the way for expected importation of wood bison stock from Canada in the winter of 2007-2008, with a view to releasing animals into the wild by spring 2010 or 2011.

According to a letter from Interior Region Supervisor David James, "this Environmental Review represents a significant milestone in the department's efforts to evaluate wood bison restoration in Alaska. Public comment on this report will have a major influence in determining whether the department continues to pursue wood bison restoration in Alaska and, if so, where we attempt to restore this historically important species."

The Department issued both a complete environmental review and a less detailed summary of that review. All the documents can be accessed on the wood bison restoration page on the ADFG website.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Caribou Return to the Seward Peninsula: An Alaska Native Elder's Perspective

For almost the entire 20th century, caribou were largely absent from the Seward Peninsula, changing the way of life of Alaska Natives living in the area.

In 2000, the Western Arctic Herd came onto the peninsula, again changing the way of life of people there; this time sweeping away domestic reindeer herds which wandered away with the caribou.

Alaska Native Elder Jacob Ahwinona tells the story in the Alaska Wildlife News.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Fed Subsistence Board Meets 30 Apr - 2 May

From a USFWS News Release:

The Federal Subsistence Board will meet April 30-May 2 at the Sheraton Anchorage Hotel, 401 E. 6th Ave., Anchorage to consider changes to Federal subsistence hunting and trapping regulations. Also on the agenda at this meeting will be the State of Alaska's request for reconsideration of the Board's November 2006 decision recognizing the customary and traditional use of fish in the Kenai River area by residents of Ninilchik.

The Board will also meet May 8-10 at the Coast International Inn, 3450 Aviation Drive, Anchorage, to consider changes to Federal subsistence fishing regulations on the Kenai Peninsula. In addition the Board will take action regarding the proper balance of subsistence, sport, and commercial representatives on the subsistence regional advisory councils.

Additional information on the Federal Subsistence Management Program can be found on the web here.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Spring Drawing / Tier II Permit Hunt Information Available

The spring application period for Alaska drawing and Tier II permit hunt starts May 1 and ends on May 31, 2007. Permit hunt supplements for these hunts are available online now. The permit supplements describe the hunts and will be available shortly at Alaska Department of Fish and Game offices and many license sellers around the state.

It is also possible to order hunting (and fishing, trapping and other licenses and stamps) online from ADFG.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Shots End April Bear Mauling

A spring bear hunter was saved by his partner with three shots after a second bear emerged from a winter den surprising the hunters who had just taken another bear from the same den.

The second, larger bear began mauling Anchorage hunter Lynn Keogh moments after Keogh's snap shot failed to stop the charging sow. Shots from Keogh's partner into the bear's brain ended the mauling, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

Read the entire story in the Anchorage Daily News >>>

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Hunter Heritage Foundation a Benefit for Alaska Hutners

According to Alaska Fish and Wildlife News, the Alaska Hunter Heritage Foundation "has raised about $1.5 million and has spent virtually all of it on programs specifically designed to promote conservation of Alaska’s wildlife by recruiting and educating new hunters and maintaining the enthusiasm of existing hunters."

Why is a state wildlife agency partnering with a the foundation?

"For many decades, hunters have been the backbone of wildlife management. People who understand and enjoy wildlife are the most effective advocates for wildlife habitat protection and responsible wildlife management, and nobody knows wildlife like hunters do. Hunters also recognize the importance of trained professionals gathering and analyzing the scientific data that are the basis for modern management, and they put their money where their mouths are, in the form of license fees, sporting goods excise taxes, and outright donations to a variety of organizations dedicated to the abiding health of wildlife. Hunters led the first wildlife conservation efforts in this country, and they continue their strong support today. And in the process of nurturing hunted species, they do an immeasurable benefit to non-game wildlife as well.

By holding successful fundraising events and using that money strategically, the Foundation has become the premier Alaska sponsor of outdoor sporting educational programs, such as those noted above. They’ve even begun an Oral History Project to document and preserve Alaska’s rich hunting and trapping heritage by interviewing long-time Alaskans who spent their lives making a living from the Great Land. But the Foundation’s prime function is to create and assist hunters."

Read the entire article >>>

GMU 20A Moose Still Too Many; Cow Hunt to Continue

The Game Management Unit 20A (Tanana Flats south of Fairbanks) moose population is still too high reports Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reporter Tim Mowry, and hunters are likely to have another opportunity to take cows this fall in an attempt to reduce the population.

"The 2006-07 antlerless moose hunt in Unit 20A closed on Feb. 28 and the preliminary reported harvest is 551 cow and calf moose, according to state wildlife biologist Don Young, who oversees the hunt for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Fairbanks.

While it fell short of the 700 quota established by the Department of Fish and Game in Fairbanks, the harvest should help stunt the growth of the moose population in Unit 20A."

Read the entire story in the Fairbanks Daily News Miner >>>

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Objectives met, wolf control suspended in one area

From an ADFG news release:

The wolf control program in the Nelchina Basin has been suspended as the latest population estimate is within the range established by the Alaska Board of Game.

As of Monday, biologists in the Glennallen office of Wildlife Conservation estimated 162 wolves in Game Management Unit 13. The long-term spring population objective set by the Board of Game is 135-165.

Typically, trappers and hunters take a dozen or so wolves in April, so the population might dip a bit more but still remain within the objective.

This is the second year in a row the spring population estimate has been within the objective. Last spring’s figure was 157. Prior to that, the last time the objective was reached was in 1989.

“By sustaining the wolf control program since its inception in 2004, we have been successful in reducing and maintaining wolf densities at a level that has allowed moose calves to survive and become the foundation of a growing moose population,” said Matt Robus, director of the Division of Wildlife Conservation.

As recently as 2000-01, the wolf population in Unit 13 was estimated at as many as 520. A dramatic increase in wolves in the 1990s contributed to a decline of more than 50 percent in moose numbers.

This was the fourth winter that wolf control has been conducted with the use of aircraft. Since the program began, moose trends in count areas surveyed every year indicate a promising turnaround.

Since 2000, the number of moose in the count areas is up 14 percent. More careful examination of the survey figures is even more encouraging. The number of calves in the count areas is up 110 percent and the number of yearling bulls is up 176 percent. Calves and yearlings are most vulnerable to predation by wolves and bears.

Overall bull numbers have increased 45 percent. Hunting in Unit 13 is limited to bull moose, and the harvest of 685 in 2006 is up 46 percent from the low harvest in 2000.

Cow moose numbers are down 3 percent in the count areas, but biologists say that is not surprising. Cow moose make up most of the population, so they are expected to have the longest recovery time. Cows born in the 1990s are dying of old age and haven’t been replaced fully because so few calves survived during the decline.

The 2006-07 control program took 33 wolves. Hunters and trappers so far have reported taking another 62. That number will climb as they bring in their pelts for sealing. The trapping season runs through April and trappers have 30 days after that to get furs sealed.

Control efforts focus on more inaccessible areas in Unit 13 where trapping pressure is less and some of the best moose habitat exists.

Given the high productivity of wolves, it is anticipated the wolf population will bounce back up to more than 250 by next fall. Therefore the department will resume control efforts next December aimed at maintaining the spring population at the Board of Game objective.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Judge Stops State Wolf Incentive Program

An Alaska Superior Court judge has ordered the state of Alaska to halt its new program of paying gunners $150 for wolves taken, the Anchorage Daily News has reported.

The financial incentive was designed to increase the take of wolves in areas where wolf predation control efforts are underway. Preservation groups maintained that the incentives constituted a "bounty," and the judge agreed.

The state is now considering other options, including the use of state personnel shooting wolves from helicopters.

Read the entire article in the Anchorage Daily News >>>

Friday, March 30, 2007

Internet Hunting Would be Banned Under Proposed Alaska Law

"Internet hunting," the practice of taking game animals using remotely controlled guns and cameras connected to the "hunter" via the Internet would be banned under a law proposed recently by an Alaska lawmaker, the Anchorage Daily News reports.

The idea started in Texas, where the practice was banned no long after. In Alaska, Rep. Bob Buch (D-Anchorage) would put a stop to it before it starts here.

"At first I thought Internet hunting must be a joke, but unfortunately, it's not," Buch said in the ADN article. "We have some of the best, big game in the world. We need to ban this practice before it hits Alaska."

Read the entire article in the Anchorage Daily News >>>

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Preservationist Groups Try to Halt Alaska's Wolf Incentive

The Alaska Wildlife Alliance, the Defenders of Wildlife, and the Alaska Chapter of the Sierra Club are seeking an injunction in State Superior Court in Anchorage to halt the State of Alaska's $150 incentive program that is designed to boost wolf reduction efforts, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

Using the dictionary defense, the groups are saying that cash rewards constitute a bounty. The state says the payments are an incentive, and since they apply to specific areas only, are not a bounty.

Read the story in the Anchorage Daily News >>>

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Deer winter kill being evaluated

Possible bag limit reductions from Kodiak to Southeast. Deer numbers are being evaluated to determine winter kill numbers after heavy snowfall.

"Even before Juneau broke its the seasonal snow record with over 195 inches at the airport, Annex Creek, just 12 miles south of town and also at sea level, had 450 inches, more than 37 feet."

"'We started off with lots of snow, which rained off,' said Larry Van Daele, a state wildlife biologist in Kodiak. Then temperatures dipped into the teens. 'We lost most of the fawns early, and now the adults are starting to tip over,' he said.

"Van Daele said the Department of Fish and Game may consider reducing the deer hunting seasons and/or bag limits next fall to help the herds rebuild. That's what happened after the winter of 1998-99."

Friday, March 23, 2007

Changes to the Alaska Hunting Regulations for 2007

From an ADFG summary:

This is a summary of changes adopted by the Alaska Board of Game for regulatory year 2007-2008. This is not a comprehensive list of all the detailed changes. It is your responsibility to read the Alaska Hunting Regulations carefully for complete information.

These regulations do not become effective until July 1, 2007 so do not affect hunting or trapping seasons that are currently open or that open prior to July 1, 2007. (such as spring bear seasons and bear baiting)

Units 7 and 15, replace registration hunt with drawing permit hunt, Oct. 1 – Nov. 30 and April 1 – June 15.
Units 5 and 8, require an unrecovered wounded bear to count as the bag limit for that regulatory year.
Unit 8, modify hunt boundary between the registration hunt and drawing hunts near Kodiak city-all drainages into Chiniak, Antone Larsen, and northeast Ugak (east of Saltery drainage) Bays are included in the registration hunt.
Unit 9C, retain brown bear hunting closure in Kamishak special use area near McNeil.
Unit 13E, Denali State Park, liberalize bag limit to one bear a year.
Unit 16A, outside Denali State Park, eliminate resident brown bear tag fee requirement.
Unit 14C, Chugach State Park, open new drawing permit hunt, Jan. 1 – May 31, one bear per regulatory year.

Units 9A, 9B, 9C, within the Alagnak River drainage, 17A drainages west of Right Hand Point, 17B, 17C east of the Wood River and Wood River Lakes, 18, 19A and 19B-Mulchatna caribou herd, align resident seasons throughout the range to Aug. 1 – March 15, reduce resident bag limit to 2 caribou. Only one bull total may be taken during the regulatory year, and only one caribou may be taken Aug. 1 – Jan. 31. Shorten existing nonresident seasons to Sept. 1 – 15 with one caribou bag limit. Eliminate winter same day airborne hunt in portion of the area and restrict the use of proxies for caribou hunting prior to Nov. 1.
Unit 9D, convert general season resident hunt to registration hunt, with a one bull bag limit, close nonresident season.
Unit 10, Adak Island, no bag limit, but only two bulls may be taken per regulatory year, and no bulls may be taken from Jan. 1 – Aug. 9.
Unit 13, Tier II caribou hunt TC566-prohibit permit holders from hunting caribou anywhere else in the state that regulatory year. Limit permits to 2 per household. Require salvage of all edible meat, with the meat of the front quarters, hindquarters and ribs remaining on the bone. In addition, the entire head, hide, liver, heart and kidneys must be salvaged. No use of ORV’s over 1500 pounds or aircraft allowed. Allow transfer of permit to resident second degree kindred relative.
Unit 20E, near Eagle, allow emergency opening 3 day hunt during Oct. and Nov.

Unit 14C, extend season in Eklutna Management Area to May 31-not effective until next spring, 2008.
Unit 16, predator control area, add black bear control to allow the use of liberalized bag limits and methods and means under a control area permit. These conditions are only permitted with a control permit, not under general hunting regulations, and each resident hunter wishing to participate must be permitted. See new control supplement available mid-June for area and further information.
Under a control permit, after July 1, 2007, the following conditions may apply:
• Allow taking of any bear with no bag limit
• Same-day-airborne taking of black bears as long as permittee is at least 300 feet from the aircraft, including the use of any type of aircraft to access black bear baiting stations during the baiting season, April 15th to June 30th and August 10th to October 15th,
• Allow up to four bait stations
• No bear baiting within 100 yard buffer from the Unit 16 shorelines of the Susitna River, Yentna River below the confluence with the Skwentna River, the Deshka River (Kroto Creek) below the confluence with Trapper Creek, and Alexander Creek instead of ¼ mile.
• Allow bear baiting within one mile of cabins if the cabin is on the opposite side of a major river system from the bear baiting station and other permit conditions are met.
• Allow sale of tanned black bear hides (not mounts) as long as sale tag remains attached

Unit 3, Mitkof Island within the Petersburg Management Area, extend season, Oct. 15 – Dec. 15, and increase bag limit to 2 bucks.
Units 6 and 8, all unused deer harvest tickets must be carried while hunting deer and must be validated in sequential order, beginning with harvest ticket number one.

Units 1 - 5, prohibit the taking of nannies with kids.
Unit 13D, convert southeast portion of drawing hunt DG719 to registration hunt.
Units 14A and C, establish drawing hunt only Sept. 1-Oct. 31, early registration archery season in 14C, Aug. 16-31. November registration hunt in areas if harvest is not obtained. Not in effect until fall 2008-will be printed in Winter Drawing Supplement.
Unit 15C, convert existing Tier II hunts to registration hunts with same season as other Kenai Peninsula hunts, Aug. 10 – Oct. 15 with limited permit availability. Retain November 1 – 30 registration hunt in area.

Unit 1B and 3, eliminate nonresident season for the existing drawing hunt.
Unit 1D, Tier II moose hunt TM059, extend season, Sept. 15 – Oct. 7.
Units 1-5, any damaged, broken, or altered antler may not be used to satisfy the spike-fork antlers requirement.
Unit 13, Tier II moose hunt TM300-prohibit permit holders from hunting moose anywhere else in the state that regulatory year. No use of ORV’s over 1500 pounds or aircraft allowed. Allow transfer of permit to resident second degree kindred relative. All moose hunters-require salvage of all edible meat, with the meat of the front quarters, hindquarters and ribs remaining on the bone. In addition, the liver and heart must be salvaged.
Unit 14A, create new youth hunt for antlerless moose in DM402, youth hunters aged 10-17 years old, accompanied by licensed adult at least 21years old, moose bag limit counts against both bag limits.
Units 14A, B and 16A, shorten bull moose season by 10 days, Aug. 20 – Sept. 20.
Unit 14C, Ship Creek (upstream of Ft. Richardson) establish late season registration hunt for any bull, Oct. 1 – Nov. 30.
Unit 20D, lengthen antlerless moose season Oct. 1 - Nov. 15, increase number of permits available.

Units 14A, south and east of the Matanuska River, and 13D, establish new drawing hunts, any ram west of Tazlina Lake and in 14A, full curl only east of Tazlina Lake. Not in effect until fall 2008-will be printed in Winter Drawing Supplement.

Unit 9, extend hunting season to end May 25.

Units 1 - 5, open hunting season earlier, Sept. 1 – Feb. 15.

Unit 1C, manage Mendenhall Wetlands State Game Refuge by zones, with department authority to close specific areas.
Unit 14C, Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge, clarify permit requirements for all hunters, and allow air rifles with rifled barrel for deleterious exotic wildlife hunting.
Unit 14C, Eagle River Management area, allow the use of shotguns for small game with permit.
Units 15A and B, Skilak Loop Wildlife Management area. Create youth hunt allowing hunters 16 and younger, accompanied by a licensed hunter 18 or older, to use rimfire firearms and shotguns for small game in western half of area on weekends Oct. 15-Dec. 31, including the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Active duty resident military who are unable to use drawing or Tier II permits due to being deployed to an active combat zone may:
For drawing permit hunts: be reissued the same drawing permit for the following year when the person returns to this state from active duty
For Tier II permits: transfer that Tier II permit only during the same regulatory year to a substitute hunter while the person is out of the state on active duty.

Tier II scoring changes
Question 16 concerning alternative resources was repealed and replaced with a new question concerning time spent in the area of the Tier II hunt.

For the moose and caribou hunts in Unit 13, a new question concerning household income was added. The income levels and scoring will be dependent on the number of people in the household and their total taxable income for the past year.

The taxable income of all members of a household will be considered. A family of four or fewer members will receive zero points on this question if the total taxable income of all household members exceeds $51,640. The cutoff will be adjusted upward for larger households.

If household income exceeds the cutoff, the total score for the application will be zero. If there are Tier II permits remaining, but a pool of applicants with the same score is too large to award all permits, a random drawing is done to award the remaining permits. In other words, if there is a large pool of people with a score of zero, there will a random drawing if there are permits remaining.

Units 1 –5 require all traps and snares to be marked with a permanent tag with trapper’s name and address or permanent ID, or be set within 50 yards of a sign with the same information.

Unit 1D, change the 5 per season bag limit to no bag limit.
Unit 4, west of Chatham strait, open trapping season Dec. 1 – May 15, no bag limit.
Unit 11, align seasons, bag limits and methods and means with Unit 13. Season Sept. 25 - May 31, no bag limit, no firearms allowed, and from September 25 through November 9 only with underwater traps or snares.
Unit 14C, Birchwood Management area, open trapping season, Dec. 1 – April 15, 20 per season.

Unit 5, open trapping season earlier, Nov. 10 – Feb. 15.
Unit 6, shorten season to align with wolf, Nov. 10 – Mar. 31.
Unit 9, align trapping season with wolf, Oct. 1 – Apr. 30.
Unit 13, align trapping season with wolf, Oct. 15 – Apr. 30.
Units 14(B), 16, and 17, align trapping season with wolf, Nov. 10 – Apr. 30.

Unit 5, open trapping season earlier, Nov. 10 – Feb. 15.

Units 14B and 16A, extend trapping season, Nov. 10 – Jan. 31.

Unit 17, extend trapping season, Nov. 10-Mar. 31, increase bag limit to no limit.

Unit 14A, align trapping season with lynx season, Dec. 15 – Jan. 31.
Unit 14C, open trapping season in Chugach State Park Management Area, align season in all of Unit 14C with lynx, Dec. 15 – Jan. 31.

ADF&G Enhances Predator Control Efforts Commissioner Directs Testing of New Ideas

From an ADFG News Release

Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) Commissioner Denby Lloyd today announced enhanced efforts to reduce wolf populations in five areas around the state. Alaska’s wolf-control program, now in its fourth consecutive year, involves volunteer pilots and shooters who track and kill predators in the winter months under special department permits. Removing wolves is one part of ADF&G’s efforts to restore and increase selected moose and caribou populations which provide food for Alaskan families.

“Several factors have led to a low wolf take this winter, so we’re going to step up our efforts to meet the annual objectives in this important program,” Lloyd said. The predator control program will be suspended on April 30th.

Department wildlife managers say a combination of conditions have made it more difficult for volunteer pilots and shooters. “Poor tracking conditions mean permittees have had a hard time locating wolves,” Wildlife Conservation Division Director Matt Robus said, “and, of course, after several successful years, there are fewer wolves to find. On top of that, expensive fuel and long periods of poor flying conditions have kept pilots on the ground through what is typically a productive time of year to take wolves.”

Commissioner Lloyd has directed Division staff to test additional efforts to increase the numbers of wolves taken in the last six weeks of this winter’s program. ADF&G will immediately institute the following management actions:

  1. Permit more pilots. The Department will grant permits to additional wolf control volunteers by contacting people who have applied, but haven’t yet been permitted, and solicit qualified pilots and shooters to help in areas where they are needed most.
  2. State incentive program. To motivate permittees to redouble their efforts and to help offset the high cost of aviation fuel, ADF&G will offer cash payments to those who return biological specimens to the department. Permittees will be paid $150 when they bring in the left forelegs of wolves taken from any of several designated control areas. “We can learn more about the wolf population age structure from these specimens,” Director Robus said, “and that information will be useful in the years to come as we modify our program to fit changing circumstances.” He explained that these cash payments are additional incentives to aerial control permittees, and are not bounties. “This program is a directed management action applied in a limited fashion in specific areas, available to properly-permitted operators, and yielding useful scientific information. In contrast, the bounties of past years were broad-scale efforts to extirpate animals across large portions of their ranges.”
  3. Help permittees find wolves. As conditions allow, the Department will charter flights for its biologists to spot wolves within wolf control areas. Agency spotters will then share that information with permitted volunteers, a technique proven effective in the past.
  4. Consider direct state control activity. Finally, and only after these other techniques have been in place for at least two weeks, ADF&G will assess their success and consider using Department staff in helicopters to track and kill wolves in limited areas where conditions warrant. “Governor Palin has asked the Department to reserve state employees and private helicopters for use as a last resort,” Commissioner Lloyd said. “But, with less than a month to go, if we find low wolf take persists in a specific area, we may deploy this last resort.” Lloyd emphasized this method would be used only in areas where it has a reasonable likelihood of success and is not logistically prohibitive.
ADF&G’s wolf control program focuses on five predator control areas that comprise less than ten percent of the state, including the Nelchina Basin, an area west of Cook Inlet, the mid-Kuskokwim Valley, the McGrath area and the upper Yukon/Tanana Basin. The Department’s objective for this winter is a take of between 382 and 664 wolves. So far, at least 98 wolves have been killed in these areas by predator control permittees, hunters, and trappers combined. As expected, the wolf control effort has been more successful in some areas than others, but the overall take is below desired levels for this point in the season.

Robus cited the predator control program’s success in recent years as one reason that wolves are harder to find this winter. Since 2003, more than 600 wolves have been removed, contributing to improving trends in several ungulate populations. For example, in the McGrath area, Division biologists have observed an increase in moose density and improved calf survival since predator control was reinstated.

Robus said the Division of Wildlife Conservation will evaluate the success of these supplemental wolf control techniques this summer and fall, with an aim to continuing the success of the program as a whole. In addition, the Division will consider offering training seminars over the summer and fall to increase the ranks of pilots, spotters and shooters qualified to handle the unique challenges of predator control in bush Alaska. “The pilots and other volunteers who have helped with this program are skilled and experienced,” Robus said. “We look forward to bringing more Alaskans’ talents to bear so we can improve the effectiveness of this effort.”

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

State to Pay Gunners Bounty on Wolves

Under a new decision, authorized gunners taking part in the aerial wolf control program will be paid a $150 bounty on kills. The effort will be evaluated in two weeks and if more wolves aren't killed State gunners will go up. Thus far only 98 of a target 382 to 664 wolves have been killed. The control season ends April 30th.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Bear Viewers Want to Push McNeil Boundaries Even Further

"While many are celebrating the recent decision by the Alaska Board of Game to not open hunting on state lands near one of the state's most popular bear-viewing spots, those who have led the fight to protect the bears say the battle is far from over," the Homer Tribune recently wrote.

The article describes how bear numbers at the McNeil falls are diminishing and some are blaming hunting....and want the closed area boundary to be placed even further out.

Read the entire story in the Homer Tribune >>>

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Game Board Limits Income for Nelchina Tier II Hunters

The Alaska Board of Game has capped the income for Tier II Nelchina caribou and moose hunters at $51,460 beginning with the 2007 season according to the Anchorage Daily News.

From the article: "Those new rules are part of what hunters are calling an extraordinary decision by the Board of Game Friday that dramatically changes the state's most sought-after subsistence hunt. It also marks a shift in the way the state looks at subsistence, at least in this particular hunt, hunters said.

The rules also apply to subsistence hunting for moose in the Nelchina area.

The Game Board's decision is the first time in Alaska's history that access to a hunt has been tied directly to income, said Alaska Department of Fish and Game spokesman Bruce Bartley."

Read the entire article in the Anchorage Daily News >>>

Saturday, March 10, 2007

High 20A Moose Numbers a Success Story

The large number of moose now inhabiting the Tanana Flats south of Fairbanks is a management success story recorded in this month's Alaska Wildlife News. With few moose in the area after a steep decline in the early 1970's, GMU 20A now holds approximately 16,000 moose, enough that biologists are working to reduce the population to keep it in balance with its habitat.

“We probably have the highest moose densities in the state, and it’s a success in providing hunting opportunities and harvest,” said Fairbanks wildlife biologist Don Young. “More than 1,000 moose have been harvested in 20A for the third year in a row.”

The News reported also that hunters and trappers have been successful at keeping predator numbers at a relatively low level, and this has helped keep moose numbers up.

Read the entire story in Alaska Wildlife News >>>

Friday, March 09, 2007

ADFG Wants Helicopters to Finish Wolf Control for Season

With wolf control efforts lagging far behind levels state biologists want, ADFG managers are asking Governor Palin for approval to use helicopters, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

Longer days and warmer weather make March the best month for the wolf reduction project. Expensive fuel and poor winter weather conditions have hampered the efforts of volunteers. Helicopters would be much more expensive than the volunteer teams that have taken the wolves in this most recent project.

ADFG staff are awaiting a decision from the governor for the more effective, but "politically volative" decision to use helicopters, the paper reported.

The wolf control project is designed to build depressed moose and caribou populations in Interior and Southcentral Alaska.

Read the entire story in the Anchorage Daily News >>>

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

McNeil Area Bear Hunt Closed

The Alaska Board of Game decided on Tuesday to not permit hunting on state lands near the famous brown bear viewing sanctuary on the west side of Cook Inlet, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

A bear hunting season scheduled to begin in the area in the fall of 2007 is now removed from the books.

Read the entire story in the Anchorage Daily News >>>

Monday, March 05, 2007

Alaska Questions Polar Bear Listing

The State of Alaska questioned whether listing polar bears as a threatened species as proposed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service is wise, according to a news article in the Anchorage Daily News (ADN).

"Tina Cunning, a biologist and a special assistant to the commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game, questioned whether polar bears really need sea ice to survive. She said polar bears are adaptable to use land for hunting, and though their preferred food, ice seals, may be declining, bears are adapting to alternative food sources.

She also testified that a listing in the United States ultimately could harm bears in Canada because Inuit villagers would no longer have an incentive to preserve them for American hunters. An ESA listing would ban importation of polar bear trophy hides.

The Palin administration had earlier questioned the move, according to the ADN, saying "The driving force in the concern over polar bears, she said, is the decline in sea ice. Listing bears as threatened, would not cause sea water to freeze."

Read the entire article in the Anchorage Daily News >>>

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Board of Game to Meet in Anchorage, March 2-12

From an ADFG news release >>>

The Alaska Board of Game will meet March 2-12, 2007, in Anchorage at the Coast International Inn to consider more than 200 proposals regarding hunting and trapping regulations in the Southcentral and Southwest regions, along with other topics.

Proposals have been submitted by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, state advisory committees, and the general public seeking adjustments to hunting and trapping regulations in the Southcentral and Southwest regions, including subsistence hunting, methods and means for hunting and trapping, intensive management programs, restricted areas, and miscellaneous statewide regulations. For more detailed information on the subject matter, members of the public are encouraged to read the meeting notice which can be viewed on-line.

The board will take oral public testimony beginning Friday, March 2nd. Anyone wishing to testify before the board must sign up at the meeting site before the announced deadline. Public testimony will continue until everyone who has signed up has been given the opportunity to be heard.

The deadline to ensure written comments on proposals are included in the Board of Game members’ meeting binders was February 16. Written comments on specific proposals that are received after that date will be accepted and distributed to members during the meeting up until they begin deliberation on the proposal. Written comments can be mailed to: Alaska Board of Game, Boards Support Section, P.O. Box 115526, Juneau, AK 99811-5526, or faxed to (907) 465-6094.

Deliberations on the proposals will begin following public testimony and continue through the remainder of the meeting. Copies of the proposals, the agenda, and the “roadmap” can be viewed online.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Homer Seeks Legislative Remedy on McNeil Bear Hunting Area

Homer, Alaska is seeking a legislative change to the boundaries of the McNeil River State Game Sanctuary as a means of limiting the area in which brown bears may be hunted around the famed bear viewing area. The Anchorage Daily News reports that Representative Paul Seaton (R-Homer) has introduced legislation to expand the sanctuary, and thus eliminate the possibility of restoring a currently closed area nearby to hunting status.

"Seaton said the bill is in response to constituents in his district asking him to prevent the game board from allowing the McNeil River bears to be hunted, especially when numbers gathering at the McNeil Falls to fish for salmon have declined in recent years. The game board's 2005 decision takes effect July 1, clearing the way for an October hunt. The board is expected to reconsider the issue at a meeting in March in Anchorage."

Read the entire article in the Anchorage Daily News >>>

Monday, February 12, 2007

McNeil River Area Bear Hunting Issue Heats Up Again

Where to draw the no-hunting boundary lines around the McNeil River brown bear viewing area are an issue again.

The Alaska Board of Game reduced the size of the no-hunting zone in a previous cycle, but delayed the actual opening for one more board meeting cycle to allow additional discussion on the subject.

The Anchorage Daily News printed an Associated Press article on the subject today. AP writer Mary Pemberton wrote the following, which summarizes the issue:

"If nothing changes, state lands used by the bears near the 114,400-acre sanctuary in Southwest Alaska will be open to hunting as of July 1, clearing the way for a fall hunt.

Opponents say it's not sporting to hunt the McNeil River bears, which are accustomed to humans and routinely come to within 10 or 15 feet of small groups of bear viewers allowed into the sanctuary each summer. Supporters say the bears are fair game when they wander outside the sanctuary."

Read the entire article in the Anchorage Daily News >>>

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Hunters "Lucky to be Alive"

Two moose moose hunters last season shot a charging grizzly bear with a .44 magnum pistol near Dillingham as they returned from their riverboat to start packing moosemeat.

"In the blink of an eye, they found themselves in the center of a chaotic reality that seemed more like some crazy dream. There was the dead moose they had shot on the ground, a grizzly bear that wanted the moose almost on top of them, and only a .44-caliber Magnum handgun with which to defend themselves," wrote Anchorage Daily News writer Craig Medred in the 11 February paper.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

ADFG Supports Status Quo Around McNeil

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game will not support additional restrictions in hunting regulations in the vicinity of the McNeil River State Game Sanctuary, according to an agency supervisor, but will support proposals reversing the Alaska Board of Game's recent opening of the Douglas River area.

"We are proud of our sound history of providing outstanding opportunities for all users through our existing management strategies and plan to support few, if any, changes to the management strategies and regulations we have employed over the past decades," wrote Division of Wildlife Conservation Southcentral Region Supervisor Grant Hildebrand in an ADFG publication.

Read the entire editorial in the February issue of Alaska Wildlife News >>>.

Fed Subsistence Board Refuses Reconsideration on Bear Claw Sales

From an ADFG News Release

The Federal Subsistence Board recently denied a Request for Reconsideration (RFR) submitted by the State of Alaska, through the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G), asking the Federal Board to reconsider its decision that allows commercial sale of bear parts including claws, skulls, teeth and bones taken under federal subsistence regulations. Federal regulations allow the sale of handicrafts made from bear parts on the Internet and in curio shops.

In May 2006, the Federal Board refused the State’s request to limit sales, but did adopt an unenforceable prohibition against sales of handicrafts that are “significant commercial enterprises.” In August 2006, the State filed an RFR challenging the Board’s May 2006 decision. This request was recently denied.

“It is important to allow customary and traditional use and exchange of handicrafts made from bear parts,” said ADF&G Commissioner Denby S. Lloyd. “However, the Federal Board went too far in creating a new market for bear parts that will mask illegal sales and provide incentive for more harvest. The State wants the Federal Board to minimize commercial sale of handicraft made from bears before, not after, it jeopardizes bear populations.”

The Federal Board’s refusal to limit commercial sale creates problems for management biologists and enforcement officers because purchase of claws, teeth, skulls, and bones is prohibited under State law. The State argues that federal regulations violate sound management and create problems under the Endangered Species Act. Unrestricted sales may contribute to illegal harvest, overharvest, and waste of bears in Alaska, and in other states and countries, in the same manner that legal sales of elephant ivory contribute to the illegal harvest of elephants.

The State manages bear populations for sustained yield and provides subsistence use of bears throughout Alaska, including on federal lands. The State allows bear parts to be used in handicrafts that are not sold, but only allows the sale of bear fur in handicrafts and, in limited circumstances, allows intact bear hides to be sold under a permit. State authorized sales do not raise conservation concerns because the fur products are not extremely valuable and because intact hides can be tracked under a sealing and transfer permit system. Federal regulations authorize sales of extremely valuable bear parts without implementing a tracking system.

The State has also submitted a proposal for consideration at the Federal Board’s April 30-May 2, 2007, meeting to revise the definition of “skin, hide, pelt, or fur” to exclude claws in federal regulation and to limit the sale of handicraft articles made from allowable bear parts among federally-qualified subsistence users.

To learn more about this issue and view the State’s RFR recently denied by the Federal Board, visit the Subsistence Division Website page on this subject.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

GMU13 Tier II Caribou Season to Close

The State GMU 13 Tier II caribou hunt closes at the end of the day February 4, according to a news release from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The harvest objective of 2000 bulls and 1000 cows is expected to be reached by the time of the closure.

According to the news release, the Nelchina herd has increased to the target range of 35,000 - 40,000 caribou since wolf control was implemented in the area.

Read the entire ADFG news release (PDF) >>>

Judge Refuses to Halt Wolf Control Program

An Alaska Superior Court judge has refused to halt the State's wolf control program, saying that there was no showing of immediate harm. The request came as part of yet another lawsuit by Defenders of Wildlife, The Alaska Wildlife Alliance and the Alaska chapter of the Sierra Club.

The judge ruled that wolf packs can regenerate, but if the State's plans were halted, harm would be done to the project.

Read the entire story in the Anchorage Daily News >>>

Monday, January 29, 2007

Aerial Wolf Shooting Ban to be on 2008 Ballot

In the here we go again department, initiative petition sponsors have collected enough signatures to put yet another aerial wolf shooting ban ballot measure before voters in the August 2008 elections, according to the Anchorage Daily News:

"According to co-sponsor Joel Bennett of Juneau, a former member of the Board of Game, the initiative is basically the same one Alaska voters passed twice before in 1996 and 2000 banning land-and-shoot hunting of wolves.

Both times, the Alaska Legislature gave the game board authority to develop the programs after the two-year initiatives had expired.

Read the entire story in the Anchorage Daily News >>>

Thursday, January 25, 2007

State Must Pay Friends of Animals Legal Fees

In a bizarre decision, an Anchorage superior court judge has decided that the state of Alaska must pay $95,000 in attorney fees for a recent Friends of Animals wolf control lawsuit.

The Anchorage Daily News reported "The state must pay $95,000 in attorney fees to Connecticut-based Friends of Animals, according to a decision by Anchorage Superior Court Judge Sharon Gleason last week. Friends of Animals was entitled to a full reimbursement because it had no financial incentives in filing the suit, said Kevin Saxby with the Department of Law."

In case your playbook on this is missing, this is for the 2003 lawsuit filed by FOA. One wonders if the missing financial incentives could be located by a casual look at FOA's promotional materials.

Read the entire story in the Anchorage Daily News >>>

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Answers for Poor GMU 16B Moose Survival Emerging

Alaska Department of Fish and Game studies are confirming earlier suspicions that predator numbers are limiting moose numbers in Game Management Unit 16B north of Anchorage.

Alaska Wildlife News put it this way: "Following the fate of all the calves born to radiocollared mothers is providing some answers. Studies so far indicate very few calves are surviving their first year in Unit 16B, most likely because they are being killed by bears and wolves.

Fewer than 10 percent of the calves are surviving to five months old, Crouse said. There are a lot of calves being born. They're just not surviving very long.

Recruitment is barely keeping up with the death rate of older animals, he noted. "“The low density population appears to be due to predation, Kavalok concluded. Habitat is not limiting at all in the area. Everything is pointing towards predators."

Read the entire story >>>

Alaska 2007 Wolf Control Starts Slow

Alaska's wolf management program designed to boost prey numbers in various parts of the state has started slowly, but ADF&G officials report that most wolves are taken in late winter, so consider the pace about right.

Wolves are being taken by air or land and shoot to reduce wolf populations in five areas of Southcentral Alaska. State wildlife managers use selective wolf reduction programs to reduce the pressure on depressed prey populations to provide benefits for Alaskans.

Read Wolf control starting slow in the Anchorage Daily News >>>

Proposals for Hunting Regulation Changes Available

Proposals for changes to the 2007/2008 Alaska Hunting Regulations to be considered at the Board of Game's March 2007 meeting are now available online from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

View the proposals (PDF file) >>>

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Supreme Court Rejects Subsistence Lawsuit

The United States Supreme Court has rejected a lawsuit that claimed the federal government has favored rural residents of Alaska in an unconstitutional manner. The Anchorage Daily News reported, "The lawsuit was brought by a group of urban Alaska residents and several non-Alaska hunters and fishermen who objected to federal regulations stemming from the 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. The group lost in federal district and appeals courts and the Supreme Court rejected the appeal on Monday without comment."

Read the entire story in the Anchorage Daily News >>>

Friday, January 12, 2007

Idaho Also Wants to Manage Wolves

Alaska's state and federal governments have suppressed wolf populations in certain areas of the state for decades to improve prey species survival rates and benefits for hunters and the economy. The programs have been controversial since the 1970's, but have continued in fits and starts depending on Alaska's governors and their willingness to take the political heat.

Now, a northern tier US state with a recently burgeoning wolf population wants to do the same. Idaho's governor has announced plans to remove up to 550 wolves from the state, as soon as the wolf is delisted as an endangered species.

The Associated Press wrote the following (as reported in "Idaho's governor said Thursday he will support public hunts to kill all but 100 of the state's gray wolves after the federal government strips them of protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter told The Associated Press that he wants hunters to kill about 550 gray wolves. That would leave about 100 wolves, or 10 packs, according to a population estimate by state wildlife officials."

Read the entire story >>>