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 >>>