State Opposes Federal Closure of Brown Bear Hunting
August 27, 2014, Juneau, Alaska – State of Alaska officials will deliver comments at a public hearing tonight strongly opposing the proposal by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to close the fall 2014 and spring 2015 brown bear hunting season on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.
“Federal land managers have again proposed limiting Alaskans’ access to a state resource,” Governor Parnell said. “The proposed closure is not justified by either resource protection concerns or federal policy. I strongly urge the Service to reconsider this action and allow state-authorized hunting to continue on the refuge. Existing state regulations were adopted through a comprehensive public process and are based on sound science that ensures the health of the bear population.”
In 2012, the Alaska Board of Game heard multiple requests from the public to respond to an increasing brown bear population and associated negative human-bear interactions on the Kenai Peninsula. The board considered those requests, resulting in a decision to increase opportunities for brown bear hunting within sustainable levels determined by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Combined with greater vigilance by local residents to keep human food and garbage away from bears, the increased harvests have resulted in dramatically reduced human/bear interactions.
“Existing state-approved wildlife regulations are based on the implementation of the sustained yield principle balanced with the interests of area residents and do not threaten the long-term viability of these bears,” said Doug Vincent-Lang, director of the Division of Wildlife Conservation for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. “If a resource conservation issue existed, the state would be closing the hunt.”
“Despite justifying the closure using resource conservation concerns, the Service has inexplicably chosen to leave open the opportunity to harvest bears under federal regulations,” Director Vincent-Lang added. “We are left to wonder how precluding harvest under state regulations can be justified if the same harvest opportunity under federal regulations is left open.”
The state’s comments will be delivered tonight at a hearing on the proposed closure at the Soldotna Sports Center from 6:00 – 9:00 pm. Director Vincent-Lang will deliver comments on behalf of the state.
The state’s comments are available at:
Posted: August 27, 2014