Seekins Wants Bear Hunt Rules Eased
SB 297: Sponsor
says new regulations preferable to relocating problem bruins
The Associated Press / Anchorage Daily News / February 8, 2004
-- The same state senator who last year spearheaded the bill
that brought aerial wolf hunting back to Alaska now is taking
aim at bears. Sen. Ralph Seekins' bill, which was introduced
Friday, would make it easier to hunt black and brown bears
deemed a threat to big game populations.
Seekins, R-Fairbanks, said the bill would provide a better alternative than relocating
bears in strictly designated areas where the Board of Game has determined that
bears are preying upon too many moose.
"Relocation gives temporary relief to that particular area, but the folks who
have the bear dropped in their backyard aren't particularly happy about that," Seekins
said. "You may be creating a problem someplace else while you're relieving the
problem over here."
Senate Bill 297 would institute relaxed regulations in areas where the state
Board of Game has established an intensive management program and identified
bear predation as a cause of declining numbers or productivity of game such as
moose and caribou.
Among its many provisions, which apply equally to black and grizzly bears, the
bill would allow people to hunt either species the same day they have been airborne;
to take bear sows accompanied by cubs that are at least a year old; to take any
bears that are at least a year old; to use any motorized vehicle to assist in
hunting bears; to kill a bear within a half-mile of a garbage dump; to use walkie-talkies
and/or an "electronic predator call device" to help hunt bears; and to bait bears
without having to register.
Seekins' bill also would allow nonresidents, who now can only hunt grizzly bear
with an official guide or with a relative who is Alaskan, to hunt them in the
designated areas if they are accompanied by an adult Alaska resident. It also
would allow guides to hunt in the designated areas.
Bear seasons in such areas would remain open all year.
"This would only be in areas where there is a documentable problem," Seekins
said Saturday. "We are trying to put more hunters in the field without having
to bring the expense out of line. ... All of these things are not meant to override
the Board of Game."
Seekins said what his bill would do is change state statute to give the game
board more tools to manage bears in specific areas.
Matt Robus of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said the department just
received the bill and hasn't taken a position on the issue.
Joel Bennett, a former Alaska Board of Game member and a former representative
of Defenders of Wildlife, argued that the proposal flies in the face of established
He argued that the same-day-airborne bear hunting rule would allow hunters to "harass,
herd and chase" bears, and that both the baiting of brown bears and nonresident
hunting without guides are illegal statewide because of safety issues.
He also called the lowering of age limits on bears completely objectionable.
"It sort of goes right to the heart of what make hunting or shooting something
supportable or tolerable," he said. "There are just certain lines that aren't
crossed, and this is one of them."
Alaska Defenders of Wildlife representative Karen Deatherage argued that predator
control should be left in the hands of the Board of Game.
"They reproduce very, very, slowly, so if you knock their populations down, you're
going to see years before they rebound," she said.
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