Editor's note: The following information is from Board of Game vice-Chairman Ted Spraker. We thank Mr. Spraker very much for sharing this information with Alaska Hunting News.
I am sure you have heard what was passed at the board but, if not, here is
some of what happened.
We did not close the moose season but came close. The department reported a bull to cow ratio of 9:100 for 15A and 15C and continued low calf to cow ratios. We need at least 20:100 for both just to maintain current low numbers. Starting this fall, our moose hunting season for Units 7 and 15 will be the same as last year for archery and the general season but the bag limit was changed to 50 inch or larger or “4” brow tines on at least one side. Hunters will be required to present their antlers to F&G for inspection and sealing within 10 days of take.
We also approved an intensive management plan to aerially shoot wolves in 15A and 15C but this does not include refuge lands. This is in addition to the intensive management plan to enhance habitat in 15A. The updated predator control plan will be presented and (hopefully) approved at the next meeting in November so the removal effort can begin in January 2012, in an effort to protect calves born next spring. Since we authorized a predator control plan in 15A and 15C, we closed hunting in these subunits to non-residents, following our standard procedure for control areas. We also put a sunset date on the bag limit decision so it can be reviewed at the 2013, March meeting.
My take on this effort: First, KNWR manager Andy Loranger attended the meeting and he sat conscientiously at the front table with Jeff during the entire Kenai discussion. Andy committed to helping as much as possible to increase efforts to enhance habitat in 15A. That was a huge commitment on his part and I am confident he will do all he can. I have little hope that aerial shooting will remove many, if any, wolves in 15A. I believe it will be up to the trappers to increase the take in 15A. To that end, I asked Al Barrette to come to the Kenai next fall with other interior wolf trappers to share their secrets, and he is willing to work with us.
Subunit 15C is a completely different issue as far as hope to rebuild moose numbers. In the past 10 years, or so, 181 square miles has burned that is coming back in good moose browse. Remember the 1969 burn in 15A that greatly increased moose numbers and displaced black bears, resulting in high calf survival, was 135 square miles. The other important difference is moose move off the refuge during winter so the wolf packs that operate on most 15C moose are in an area open to predator control efforts. The “off-refuge” portions of 15C are heavily timbered but if the public aerial permits holders are not successful the department will be allowed to conduct wolf removal, as they did in other areas, using both fixed-wing and helicopters. Barring a severe weather event, we should start seeing positive results in improved calf numbers and recruitment in a couple years. The new “bag limit” designed to protect all yearlings and 2 year olds and many of the 3 and 4 year old bulls (that produce 3 brow tines) should increase the bull to cow ratio in two years. The 50 inch 4 brow rule will probably reduce the harvest from about 300+ to less than 100 bulls in all of 7 and 15. The sealing of antlers will at least make hunters more careful about taking a shot when they are not absolutely sure of the antler size.
The S/F-50-3 brow tine rule has failed due to low calf survival/recruitment and illegal take of mid-sized bulls. When this selective harvest was modeled, in the mid 1980s, those two parameters were clearly the Achilles Heel of the program, so this is not a surprise that even selective harvest cannot save the bull numbers. High levels of predation and poor habitat in 15A, rather than hunters, are to blame for this new restriction on hunters.
Other changes starting July 1, 2011:
The bag limit for black bear will be 3 per regulatory year starting July 1 but
only 1 for non-residents on the outer coast of Unit 7 and 15C. Non-residents
are allowed to take 3 in the remainder of 7 and 15.
The department and board made a public request to increase baiting on the
The bag limit for hunting wolves is now the same (5 per regulatory year) on
the refuge and other lands in 7 and 15. It was 5 off refuge and 2 on refuge.
The Homer antlerless moose hunt was approved for next fall.
The Resurrection Creek moose closed area was repealed. This is the Palmer Creek area of Unit 7 near Hope that was closed in 1980 to moose hunting is now open.
The proposal to open beaver trapping on Oct. 10 instead of Nov. 10 failed with a vote of 1 to 5.
The proposal to open the Lower Kenai Controlled Use Area to motorized vehicles failed 0 to 6.
There were no changes to hunting brown bears but a great deal of conversation was put on the record concerning an abundance of bears and need to increase the harvest. The “Species of Special Concern” and lack of a population estimate still has the department ham-strung on allowing more brown bear take.
Moose population (3,000-3,500) and harvest objective (180-350) remained the same in 15A.
Vice-Chairman Board of Game