State Senate today passed by a vote of 13 to 6 to allow
money incentives as a way to encourage hunters to kill
brown bears and black bears in areas designated for control. Senate
Bill 297 permits :
who kill bears to turn in the hides and skulls for auction
to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The department
would be obligated to pay 50 percent of the proceeds to
hunters would be allowed to kill bears while in the company
of permitted resident hunters who were not registered guides. Non-residents
could save thousands of dollars by not having to pay guide fees.
Seekins' bill is part of an all out war on bears. In March
the Board of Game, well known for its anti-predator stance, approved an arsenal
of ways and means to accelerate elimination of bears. Included were
public same day airborne killing of bears, public land and shoot killing
of bears, public snaring of bears, public baiting for brown bears as well
as black bears, sterilization and mass bear relocation projects like the
94 bears that were dumped hundreds of miles away from McGrath last spring. Shooting
of one year old cubs was also approved, as was the use of communications
equipment between hunters or trappers.
Little is known about the status of bears in Alaska. They are extremely
difficult to census, making it difficult for biologists to know when over-harvesting
has occurred, and an ecological disaster is in the making.
Bears have a low reproductive rate. Brown bears have the lowest reproductive
rate of any North American land mammal. It does not take much to
over-harvest them. When this happens it can take many years for them
to recover. This
was a major point brought out by the two year National Academy of Sciences
study of predator management in Alaska. It recommended against the
manipulation of Alaska's bear populations.
Because bears eat moose and caribou does not make them
vermin. They have
successfully co-existed with these species for tens of thousands of years,
and have done so in a manner that has enabled there to
be over a million moose and caribou alive today in Alaska.
No biological emergencies have been identified by scientists anywhere
in the state that would warrant the use of bear control.
How much of the state will be allocated for bear control has not yet
been determined. The
Board of Game at its March meeting allocated the killing of "at least 1000 bears" by
means of baiting in 18 Game Management Units covering most of the state,
and nearly doubling the current annual take by baiting.
Contact: Dr. Paul Joslin, Wildlife Director, Alaska Wildlife Alliance
Office (907) 277 9816, cell (907) 250 5944, firstname.lastname@example.org