the second year in a row, the state will move bears away
from the McGrath area to try to increase the moose population.
of Fish and Game biologists this week are organizing the
effort, which will relocate mostly black bears and some
grizzlies from the area around the Interior village to a
game management unit south of Fairbanks.
with about 500 residents, is part of a 528-square-mile area
where the state is conducting a predator control study in
response to complaints from residents that bears and wolves
have killed too many moose, cutting into their food supply.
or eight biologists will be involved in the relocation effort,
said Fish and Game spokeswoman Cathie Harmes, in Fairbanks.
Two or three biologists were in McGrath on Tuesday, but
the weather prevented others from arriving. The biologists
were to try to get to McGrath again Wednesday, depending
on the weather.
bear relocation, timed to coincide with the spring moose
calving season, is expected to continue through the end
of the month, Harmes said.
we want to do is keep them away from the calves for a few
months, and that was very successful" last year, she
spring, about 90 bears were moved at least 150 miles from
the McGrath area. About 20 percent of the bears eventually
biologists began the relocation last year, they expected
to remove between 25 and 40 bears but ended up removing
more, Harmes said. The relocation cost about $1,000 per
is uncertain how many bears will be relocated this year.
The bears likely will go to Game Management Unit 20A, south
of Fairbanks, because it has more moose, Harmes said.
winter, the state conducted an aerial wolf control program
whereby wolves were shot from airplanes in the McGrath area
to boost moose numbers.
McGrath program was similar to a land-and-shoot program
that operated at the same time in the Nelchina Basin area
in Southcentral Alaska.
programs together resulted in 147 wolves being killed. Both
programs, which have been approved for five years, were
suspended April 30 and will begin again in fall.
the McGrath area, the state Game Board expanded the aerial
program from about 1,750 square miles to 3,600 square miles
when tracks indicated that wolves were going well beyond
the boundaries of the experimental study area, Harmes said.
though only 20 wolves were killed under the aerial program
and another 11 eliminated by trappers, biologists had a
fairly good idea of how many wolves were in the McGrath
area, she said.
got the majority of wolves," Harmes said.
and Game has said that last year's bear removal helped increase
the moose calf survival rate by about 20 percent in the
McGrath area. Eighty-one black bears and nine grizzlies
the end of April 2003, the survival rate for moose calves
was 56 percent, compared with 27 percent in 2002 and 33
percent in 2001, Harmes said.
through the use of radio collars placed on moose calves
will conduct a mortality study this summer. The collars
produce two sounds, one that indicates a calf is alive and
another that signals the animal might be dead because it
has not moved for a while.
fall, biologists plan to do a moose count in the McGrath
area. Wolf population estimates also will be conducted,
Game Board will be evaluating the program's progress and
making revisions over the five-year period, Harmes said.
is not carved in granite that control efforts will take
place for five years," she said. "It depends on
what objectives are met and what we learn."
the Nelchina Basin area, 127 wolves were killed under the
aerial program. The goal was 140 wolves.
think it was successful," said Fish and Game spokesman
Bruce Bartley. "It did what we expected it to do."
relocation won't be part of the Nelchina Basin program.
That's because hunters already are doing the job of bear
removal, Bartley said.
2001-2002, hunters in the basin's Unit 13 killed 87 black
bears and 119 brown bears. That compares with McGrath area
hunters in Unit 19 killing fewer bears: 16 black bears and
83 brown bears.