More Moose Survive after Bears Removed
64 percent of calves lived this year, up from
38 percent and 43 percent.
Press / Anchorage Daily News / September 25, 2003
Regional research biologist Patrick Valkenburg of the Alaska Department of Fish
and Game in Fairbanks filled the agency's DeHavilland Beaver this May with six
tranquilized black bears, including this cub, before flying his cargo from McGrath
to an undisclosed location.
The summer survival rate of moose calves around McGrath is about 20 percent higher
this year than in the previous two years.
State wildlife biologists say this is because the state relocated 75 black bears
and eight grizzlies from the area during the spring moose-calving season.
"At this point, we can say it certainly looks like we're going to see increased
summer survival," said biologist Mark Keech, who spearheaded the project for
the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. "Whether or not wolves will kill those
extra calves over the winter and bring the survival rate back down remains to
This year's survival rate of 64 percent, as of Sept. 10, is based on a survey
of 53 radio-collared calves and compares to rates of 38 percent and 43 percent
the previous two years on similarly-sized samples.
Keech presented his preliminary findings Tuesday at the 54th annual Arctic Science
Conference in Fairbanks.
Bears killed 12 of 53 collared calves this year -- or 23 percent -- compared
with 33 of 85 in 2002 (39 percent) and 23 of 51 (45 percent) in 2001.
"It's not earth-shattering science," Keech said. "It makes intuitive sense that
if you get rid of a predator, then more animals killed by that predator will
McGrath is a town of about 500 on the western edge of the Alaska Range about
200 miles southwest of Fairbanks. It has been the focal point in the state's
predator-control debate for the past decade.
McGrath residents say wolves and bears kill so many moose that local hunters
can't get meat to feed their families.
The state selected McGrath as a kind of predator-control laboratory. Fish and
Game conducted studies and surveys to determine whether predators were limiting
the moose population.
Three years ago, biologists found that bears were killing more moose calves than
wolves were, and they proposed moving bears to see if it would boost the survival
Biologists moved the bears at least 150 miles. As of early September, only four
of the 22 black bears that biologists fitted with radio collars had returned
to the area where they were captured.
Biologists are planning to repeat the bear removal and calf collaring project
next fall, Keech said.
Song of Alaska, P.O. Box 671670, Chugiak, Alaska 99567-1670
Wolf Song of Alaska.
The Wolf Song of Alaska Logo, and Web Site Text is copyrighted, registered,
protected, and cannot be used without permission.
Web design and artwork donated by She-Wolf Works and Alaskan artist Maria Talasz
All rights reserved