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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Is there a need to kill any of the 478 Brown Bears believed to roam the Kenai Peninusla in Alaska? With up to 40 Bears killed annually by humans in ways other than hunting(auto collisions, etc) and another 69 shot by hunters(at least 23 of them females), that means 23% of the believed to exist population was blown away last year...........Is this a sustainable kill level?.............And even if statistically falling within so-called sustainability levels for long term Bear persistence on the Peninsula, this killing formula feels wrong to me.............Does any of the Biologists in Fish and Game for this region ever think about genetic variability, the fact that hunters along with the other manner of bear kills might be removing critical gene pools from the population.................Is it always about human comfort levels in determining population levels of carnivores or is it as the POPE said this week at the U.N. and it D.C. in the Capitol Rotunda,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,"ALL CREATURES HAVE INHERENT RIGHTS TO EXIST ON THE PLANET",,,,,,,,,,,,"MAN SHOULD NOT SEE HIMSELF AS THE DOMINANT LIFE FORM, BUT AS A FELLOW CREATURE ON THIS ARK WE CALL HOME"-------# Brown Bears, # Kenai Peninsula. # Alaska, # hunting carnivores, # hunting brown bears, # hunting Grizzly bears, # Kenai brown bear population

Biologists wrestle with how much hunting Kenai brown bear population can support

Joseph Robertia
Blaine Anliker of Chugiak poses with the brown bear he shot May 20, 2015 over a registered bait station near Clam Gulch. The bear’s hide measured more than 10 feet and was one of two large brown bears taken last month at bait stations registered to Kenny Bingaman of Soldotna.
Courtesy of Kenny Bingaman

SOLDOTNA – State and federal wildlife managers have not always agreed on the number of brown bears living on the Kenai Peninsula or the best way to manage the population, however large.
But recent studies by the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game have yielded some of the most specific population data in decades.
“As of the end of 2014, there are 478 brown bears on the Peninsula. That’s what we believe is out there,” said John Morton, a supervisory biologist with the refuge.
That’s an increase from earlier estimates, but just a sliver of the 32,000 brown bears that Fish and Game estimates live in Alaska, from the Arctic to Southeast. About 3,000 are believed to live in bear-dense Kodiak Island, which is about twice as big as the Peninsula.

Bear hair on barbed wire

Since 1993, an extrapolated estimate of 250 to 300 Kenai brownies was the benchmark provided by the state, but that changed in 2010, after the refuge conducted an intensive DNA-based study that involved collecting hair samples for more than a month.
Bear habitat across the Peninsula’s 16,000 square miles was divided into cells forming a grid. Each cell had a lure station baited with fermented fish oil and cow’s blood, surrounded by barbed wire. As the bruins stepped over or went under the wire, they left hair on the barbs. More than 11,000 hair samples were collected, which were then sorted – brown bears from black -- and analyzed.

“Our estimate, for 2012 and based on the field work from 2010, was 582 brown bears,” Morton said.
While the number was a snapshot in time, according to Jeff Selinger, Fish and Game’s Soldotna area wildlife manager, the 582 number was useful when added to Fish and Game’s own radio-telemetry studies of the population. The number of bears in Fish and Game’s study changes from year to year as animals die or slip out of their collar, but at any given time 30 to 40 sows are being monitored.
“The collars last six years or more, and we replace them as needed,” Selinger said. “The goal is to follow these bears their entire lives.”
Consequently, biologists can determine exactly where the bears den, where they roam and whether they have any cubs.
Information gleaned so far includes when the grizzlies first breed, average litter size, when cubs are weaned and what percentage of cubs survive the first few years of life, among other things. The information has helped foster some changes in brown bear management.
“We weren’t managing for that specific 250-300 number before the estimate,” Selinger said. “We were trying to manage a stable population with a minimum number of negative interactions with humans. But prior to 2012, it seemed like the number of (Peninsula) bears was going up. There were people who felt threatened by bears, and we were having a lot of DLPs (defense-of-life-or-property shootings).”

Bear cap rises

Prior to 2012, Selinger had been under a department directive for more than a decade to manage brown bears conservatively.When he took the job in 2002, Selinger was asked to manage for an average of not more than 14 brown bears (including no more than six sows) killed during a three-year period. By 2003, he championed and received approval to increase the cap to 20, including no more than eight females older than 12 months.
The higher cap didn’t do hunters much good.
That’s because the number of brown bears killed annually in DLP shootings, dispatched by Fish and Game personnel or who perished in collisions with vehicles, met or exceeded the cap, often before hunters got afield. The peak came in 2008, when 40 bears died from human causes that didn’t involve hunting. 
Hunts happened in 92 percent of the seasons from 1974-2011, but some were only a few days long.  The average harvest was 11.3 bears. 

A different strategy

To quell public concern, the Alaska Board of Game in 2012 recommended more bears be killed. Within months, spring and fall drawing permit hunts, which tightly control the number of hunters and direct them to specific locales, were set up. In addition, a registration hunt was added, and more than 600 hunters applied.
The result: 44 brown bears dead, including 13 adult females.
Then the refuge released its census of 582 bears, and that changed everything again.
“In 2013 we had no cap,” Selinger said.

The bear hunting season was extended and spring hunters were allowed to hunt brown bears over bait.
The result: 71 brown bears dead, including 23 adult females.
Last year, a cap of 70 bears or 17 adult females was established, and hunters stayed under it. Sixty-nine brown bears were killed, including six adult females.
“In basically two-and-a-half years, almost 200 bears were killed, of which 42 were adult females,” Morton said. “That’s huge.”

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