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On Point: Action Items for Alaska Hunters

On April 22, 2014, the Center for Biological Diversity sent out an email in protest of brown bear hunting on the Kenai Peninsula, specifically on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge (KNWR). The statement in the email falsely claims that Kenai Peninsula brown bears are a unique and rare species and claims hunters took 23 brown bears in 2013 illegally. They say that 1300 permits have been issued for the spring hunt and there are still 700 permits available. They also say many bears will be killed over bait that consists of donuts and salmon. None of those statements is true. There were not 23 bears taken illegally, there is no limit on available permits and salmon is strictly prohibited for bait on the Kenai Peninsula. They applaud the KNWR for not allowing the taking of brown bears over bait and they are urging people to send an email to Refuge Manager, Andy Loranger, with a request that he close brown bear hunting on the KNWR. I would urge hunters to go to the following website and send a message to Mr. Loranger pointing out the falsehoods the Center for Biological Diversity is throwing out there and urge him to leave the seasons as the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has set. There has been a rather astonishing increase in brown bear populations on the Kenai and they now routinely come into town. Just a week or so ago during the middle of a school day there was a brown bear on Soldotna Elementary School’s playground. This group is far-reaching and will no doubt solicit many comments from those who know nothing butwhat they tell them. See their call to action here.

A reminder, if you purchased a metal locking tag for brown bear last fall it has expired. Taking brown bear incidental to black bear baiting is allowed in Unit 7 and 15 with the exception of KNWR property. All of the edible meat including rib meat and neck must be salvaged from a brown bear taken from a bait station (which is different than the black bear requirement of front and hindquarters and meat from the backstrap).  Bears on the Kenai Peninsula are starting to move and it looks like May 10th, which typically marks the time to get serious about bear hunting, is right on schedule.

The legislative session adjourned on April 25, 2014. House Bill 375 (criminalizing trespass on land even when not posted), after passing in the senate, went to the House Rules Committee where it remained and no decision was made. There is little doubt this will surface again in 2015. This gives hunters, trappers and fishermen a year to check ownership of property they have used or plan to use in the future and act accordingly. It appears likely the bill will get passed, the final version being anyone’s guess. The lawyers will then interpret it and the court will rule on trespass issues.  It seems this is more about bad behavior on private property than someone simply crossing un-posted property and that problems of being on un-posted private property are largely due to failure to respect the property. Folks who use it for a dump, shoot up televisions and the like, cut down trees, etc. could suffer legal ramifications. Alaskans are blessed with millions of acres of public land thus making the need to access private property minimal. With that being said, we all need to treat all property as if it were our own and consider the ramifications of our conduct.  What brought this to the forefront was two trappers setting coyote snares on private property relatively close to a school and other residential areas.  I know one of the individuals involved and he is a decent fella but seems to have used really poor judgment in this particular case.

Every year after the drawings for hunt permits there are permits undersubscribed. In other words, fewer hunters put in for permits than the number of permits available. These undersubscribed permits are dealt out on a first-come, first-served basis. Of course most of these hunts present some difficulty in terms of access, etc. Nevertheless there may be one out there that would suit your needs. The information and applications are available at the following Alaska Department of Fish & Game website.

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