Survey Explores Opinions on Nelchina Game Management

Wilderness / Outdoors Hot Line / Anchorage Daily News / February 23, 2003


Some 2,600 Alaska households are being polled for their opinions on predator management in the Nelchina Basin north of Anchorage, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. A survey now in the mail is the first step of a planning effort begun in July, the department said. The survey was prepared and will be analyzed by Cornell University. It is, according to a department press release, designed to "explore the nuances'' of various options for managing moose, caribou, grizzly and black bears, wolves, a variety of smaller animals and fowl in state Game Management Unit 13 -- an area about the size of Indiana. Because of its accessibility via the Alaska road system, the basin has long been a popular hunting and wildlife-viewing area. Hunting, however, has declined in recent years as the state has banned caribou hunting except by local or longtime Alaska residents under a subsistence permit system. Moose numbers have begun a decline because of deep-snow winters and predation by bears and wolves. Biologists have begun to consider whether predator control might be necessary to reverse the downward trend in moose numbers. They want social researchers to determine if there is support for such an idea among Alaskans. Depending on the results of the survey, Fish and Game says a citizens' advisory committee could be set up to discuss predator management. The committee would be charged with trying to come up with acceptable alternatives for stabilizing predator numbers and growing prey numbers. The agency found some success with a similar approach in the Interior where a citizen's advisory committee helped develop a plan to temporarily remove predators to allow the Fortymile caribou herd to grow.

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