Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Alaska grizzlies targetted to boost moose and caribou hunts

Grizzlies targetted to increase moose and caribou hunts

November 2011. A report, written by 3 retired Alaskan Department of Game bear experts and a scientist from the US National Wildlife Federation, shows that Alaska has been quietly increasing the hunting of grizzlies in the hope that reducing grizzly numbers would lead to an increase in caribou and moose numbers. A license to hunt a caribou or moose costs $3-500 on average; Are the Alaskan Department of Game trying to increase their revenue on moose and caribou hunts by reducing grizzly numbers?

There is no science to show that if grizzly numbers are repressed then moose and caribou numbers will increase. And why not? Because since 2000, long-term research studies on grizzly populations in the Liberal Hunt Area have been terminated without replacement.

Hunting regulations for grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) in much of Alaska since 1980 increasingly were designed to reduce bear abundance in the expectation such regulations would lead to increased harvests by hunters of moose (Alces alces) and caribou (Rangifer tarandus). Regulations were liberalized during 1980-2010 primarily in the ‘Liberal Grizzly Bear Hunting Area' (or Liberal Hunt Area) which encompassed 76.2% of Alaska.

213% increase in Grizzly hunts
By 2010, these changes resulted in longer hunting seasons, more liberal bag limits, and widespread waiver of resident tag fees. During 1995-2010, there were 124 changes that made grizzly bear hunting regulations more liberal and two making them more conservative. The 4-year mean for grizzly bear kills by hunters increased 213% between 1976-1980 (387 grizzly bears) and 2005-2008 (823 grizzly bears).

Current grizzly bear management in the Liberal Hunt Area is inconsistent with the recommendations of the National Research Council's 1997 report on predator management in Alaska. Current attitudes, policies and absence of science-based management of grizzly bears in Alaska are increasingly similar to those that resulted in the near extirpation of grizzly bears south of Canada in the 19th and 20th centuries.

If current trends continue, they increase risks to portions of the largest and most intact population of grizzly bears in North America.

2011 The Wildlife Society. Read the full report.

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