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 >>>