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Alaska Allowing Hunters to Use Bait to Kill Grizzlies

Seattle Times / AP / April 7, 2005

Fairbanks, Alaska - More than 250 wolves have been killed in a state-sanctioned predator-control program. Now Alaska game officials are targeting grizzly bears.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game last week began issuing permits for hunters to use bait to kill grizzly bears near Tok as the state expands its predator-control program to put more moose and caribou meat in the freezers of Alaska hunters. Tok is 250 miles northeast of Anchorage.

It's the first time the state has allowed hunters to bait grizzly bears and the first time the state has targeted grizzly bears instead of wolves in its predator-control efforts.

Fish and Game officials are expecting a backlash.

"Any time there's a predator-control program, it comes along with a big helping of controversy," said Fish and Game Department spokeswoman Cathie Harms.

Unlike the state's aerial wolf-control program, in which pilots and their shooters must submit resumes and be approved by Fish and Game before obtaining a permit, the only requirement for a grizzly bear permit is that hunters be Alaska residents.

An estimated 135 grizzly bears inhabit the portion of Game Management Unit 20E, where the program is being conducted. The state has established a quota of as many as 81 bears for the first year.

Cubs and sows accompanied by cubs may not be taken under the permit.

The grizzly bear-control program is designed to help a shrinking moose population in the area by reducing the number of moose calves killed by grizzlies.

"If we can help more moose survive the first year, the moose population may be able to increase and provide more harvest for people," said state wildlife biologist Jeff Gross in Tok.

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