What is happening?
The Board of Game has demanded a review and revision of polices for the McNeil River State Game Sanctuary and McNeil River Game Refuge Management plan. While many refuges have no management plan, the McNeil River Management plan is a comprehensive plan reviewed and adopted in 1996. The plan was the product of a collaborative effort involving both a citizen's advisory group and an agency team; it remains today an effective and viable document.
Why be suspicious?
Because Board of Game wants to open the McNeil Refuge and the Kamishak Special Use area to brown bear hunting, despite overwhelming public opposition against an expanded hunt and the biological evidence favoring the need for more bear conservation rather than less.
In 2005, the Board of Game went ahead with approving an annual bear hunting season in the Kamishak Special Use Area beginning in 2007 and vowed to consider opening the McNeil River Game Refuge to bear hunting when it meets in 2007.
How can you help?
Attend either of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game sponsored public meetings on McNeil
April 24, 7:00 PM to 9:30 PM in Homer at Islands and Oceans
April 25, 7:00 PM to 9:30 PM
in Anchorage at the Anchorage Senior Center,
1300 East 19th Ave.
If you cannot attend the meeting, submit your comments in writing, please contact Janet Hall Schempf, at (907) 465-6160, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Suggested Talking Points
The McNeil Refuge and all other state land adjoining the McNeil River Sanctuary are needed as a buffer zone to help safeguard the bears of the McNeil River Sanctuary.
That the management plan should encourage and allow for private and commercial non-consumptive uses, including bear and wildlife viewing, education, hiking and camping.
The McNeil River Sanctuary and Refuge contribute to Alaska's tourism and economic growth, especially in the Homer area.
The management plan should include expanded research on the McNeil bears, including close monitoring of its population status, patterns of movement, impact of hunting both on the population and on key bears important to the viewing program.