Bears' Relocation Deemed Success
Tim Mowry / Fairbanks Daily News-Miner / June 19,
the second year in a row, the state's effort to stop
bears from killing newborn moose calves in the McGrath
area appears to be working.
seven of 52 moose calves that state wildlife biologists
are tracking with radio collars had died as of Tuesday
following the removal of 35 bears from a 520-square mile
area around McGrath and only one of the seven was killed
by a bear, said state wildlife biologist Mark Keech with
the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
have killed three calves and three have died from non-predation
86.5 percent survival rate so far is about the same as
last year, when biologists moved 90 bears out of the
area, the first year bears were relocated. The two years
prior to that the survival rate of moose calves for the
first six weeks of life was about 60 percent.
"We're considerably above where we were before the bear removal," said Keech.
The moose-calf study and bear relocation program in McGrath are two of the
focal points in the state's assault on predators under Gov. Frank Murkowski
and a new Board of Game, which is aimed at producing more moose for subsistence
users and sport hunters.
state also initiated aerial wolf hunts in two areas last
winter. Hunters killed 20 wolves in the McGrath area
and 127 in the Nelchina Basin.
bear relocation program in McGrath is timed to coincide
with the spring moose calving season from mid-May to
early June. Studies by Fish and Game have shown that
bears, not wolves, kill a majority of the moose calves
that die each year, usually in the first six weeks of
life. Bears are moved at least 150 miles away from where
they are caught.
last year's initial bear removal, the survival rate for
moose calves in the area jumped 20 percent.
of that 20 percent is gained in the first 45 days and
just holds throughout the rest of the winter," said Keech. "Last
year everything we gained was just in reduction of bear
September of last year, bears killed 23 percent (12 of
53) of collared calves. That compared to a bear-kill
rate of 39 percent (33 of 85 calves) in 2002 and 45 percent
(23 of 51) in 2001.
we can hold it it would be good but it's early still," said
biologists moved as many bears as they could find, they
didn't find every bear there was to find, said Keech.
Green-up occurred earlier this year, making it harder
to locate bears, he said.
"We know we missed some," he
addition, bears in surrounding areas inevitably move
into the area and take up residence.
least seven of the 90 bears that biologists moved last
year returned to McGrath and were moved again this year.
Keech said only one of the 35 bears that biologists moved
this year appear to be heading back to McGrath.
"There's one that's over halfway back," he
have been checking on the collared calves every three
or four days and Keech said they will continue to monitor
the calf-survival rate weekly through September.
outdoors editor Tim Mowry can be reached via e-mail at
email@example.com or at 459-7587