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 >>>