Category Archives: Bears

DRAFT AWA comment letter to NPS supporting proposed changes to sport hunting regulations

October 30, 2014

Joel Hard, Deputy Director
National Park Service, Alaska Region
240 W 5th Ave., Suite 236
Anchorage, AK 99501

RE: Hunting and Trapping regulations in Alaska National Preserves
RIN: 1024-AE21

Dear Deputy Director Hard,

The Alaska Wildlife Alliance Mission Statement

The Alaska Wildlife Alliance is a non-profit organization committed to the conservation and protection of Alaska’s wildlife.  We promote the integrity, beauty, and stability of Alaska’s ecosystems, support true subsistence hunting, and recognize the intrinsic value of wildlife.  The AWA works to achieve and maintain balanced ecosystems in Alaska managed with the use of sound science to preserve wildlife for present and future generations.

The Alaska Wildlife Alliance fully supports your proposals to ban spotlighting and killing of bears in dens, killing wolves and bears with dependent young, and baiting and killing brown bears on preserve lands in Alaska managed by the National Park Service.

We feel that the state of Alaska’s misguided “intensive management” policies have gone way too far promoting the brutal, wanton killing of wolves, and brown and black bears on both state and federal lands.  We thank you for your proposals to end these practices on some federally managed lands.

Such targeted killing of top predators ignores the resulting long-term and possibly irreversible negative impacts on entire ecosystems. No doubt these IM programs will eventually have a detrimental effect on the very species – primarily moose and caribou – which they seek to increase for the benefit of hunters.

The simplistic management equation “fewer predators equal more moose and caribou for hunters” also conveniently ignores other important factors. Ongoing increases in harvest limits, increased access to remote areas, and habitat reduction, among other factors, can easily lead to overharvest by the most efficient hunters: humans.

In addition, “spotlighting” to kill bears in their dens, or using human-food bait to lure the bruins to snare sets or a camouflaged shooter should not be called “sport” hunting” at all. It is just killing. The same is true of shooting wolves with dependent pups and bear sows with dependent cubs. This is not “sporthunting,” it is killing for the sake of killing.

The NPS is directed by Congress to protect natural and healthy populations of wildlife.  Manipulation of wildlife populations to benefit other species (such as those being hunted) is specifically prohibited in the NPS Management Policies, which states: “The Service does not engage in activities to reduce the numbers of native species for the purpose of increasing the numbers of harvested species (i.e., predator control), nor does the Service permit others to do so on lands managed by the National Park Service.”

Only about 14 percent – a tiny minority – of Alaskans hold hunting licenses. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of visitors, spending millions of dollars, come to Alaska each year with the hope of seeing a wild wolf or bear. Everyone – Alaskans and visitors alike – should have an opportunity to enjoy the magnificent wildlife that inhabits Alaska’s preserves, not just a few hunters looking for a quick and easy target.

Thank you for proposing these common sense conservation policies.  We urge the NPS to adopt these proposed regulations.

Thank you for considering our comments.

Edward A Schmitt
Co-Director, Alaska Wildlife Alliance

Former governor Tony Knowles on Alaska’s predator policies – High Country News

Krista Langlois High Country NewsSep 11, 2014

High Country News How has Alaska’s approach to wildlife management changed in the 12 years since you left office? 

Tony Knowles The most disappointing thing is that the balance of views on the Board of Game has just disappeared. I tried to work with a balanced board that reflected subsistence hunters, sport hunters, guides and conservationists, but now the Board is made up of people who want to make hunting ungulates the priority for wildlife management. There’s been a focused effort to dramatically reduce populations of wolves, coyotes and bears, and the methods and means they’ve used are both unscientific and unethical.

Read the full interview at High Country News…

Sweeping new rule for Alaska’s predator control – High Country News

Federal versus state wildlife politics get even hotter.

Krista Langlois, High Country News Sep 11, 2014 

When Jim Stratton, deputy vice president for the National Parks Conservation Association, heard last week that the National Park Service had announced a sweeping new rule banning the manipulation of predators and prey in Alaska’s national preserves, his reaction was — to put it mildly — unfettered joy. “This is totally exciting news,” he says. “I’ve only been working this for ten years. Game on.”

The reaction of the state Division of Wildlife Conservation? A little more tepid. Director Doug Vincent-Lang sees any attempt by the feds to usurp Alaska’s wildlife management authority as overreach, and this new rule — which maintains hunting rights on Alaska’s 22 million acres of national preserves but bans certain controversial practices — is overreach at its worst: “unfounded and unjust,” he told Alaska Dispatch News



Don’t shoot the golden goose of wildlife viewing – AK Dispatch

Dr. Stephen Stringham,  Alaska Dispatch, January 26, 2014

One of the Alaska’s most popular outdoor activities is watching wildlife — for instance bears, wolves, moose, Dall sheep, sea lions, or songbirds. Each year, viewers pour nearly a billion dollars into our restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, sporting goods stores, motels, air taxi services, and many other businesses, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

 More than $365 million pours in as direct income for private business owners, as well as employee salaries and wages, from wildlife viewing. Another $164 million comes in through direct tax revenues — $90 million state and local, $74 million federal. Sightseeing adds an additional chunk of money. Each time those dollars are again spent locally, the economy gets a further boost. Taking that boost into account, total value of wildlife viewing is estimated at nearly double the above figures: $979 million, $620 million, $154 million, and $126 million, respectively. Directly or indirectly, most Alaska families benefit from ecotourism.

 Wise government would do everything possible to assure the health and growth of this golden goose. Yet I see no evidence that Juneau or the Board of Game makes any real effort to do so…

Read the full article at Alaska Dispatch

Study: Bear Viewing Generates Far More Revenue and Jobs than Hunting

From  by Martha Honey

WASHINGTON, DC— 8 January 2014: A new study released today finds that bear viewing ecotourism in British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest “generates far more value to the economy” in terms of revenue, taxes, and jobs than the older and more well-established trophy hunting of grizzly and black bears.  The study by the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST), Economic Impact of Bear Viewing and Bear Hunting in the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia, determined that in 2012, bear viewing in the Great Bear Rainforest, which has been growing rapidly over the last decade, generated 12 times more in visitor spending than bear hunting and over 11 times in direct revenue for BC’s provincial government. The study further found that bear-viewing companies directly employed an estimated 510 persons in 2012, while guide hunting outfitters generated only 11 jobs that same year.



And more at Center for Responsible Travel