Wolf Song of Alaska News

Alaska Game Board to Decide on Wolf and Bear Hunting

Brittany Retherford / Juneau Empire / November 10, 2006

The Alaska Board of Game begins a six-day meeting this weekend with a full agenda of 47 proposals, some of which could have far-reaching effects in Southeast Alaska.

Topics range from opening more brown bear hunting spots on Admiralty Island to requiring trappers in the Juneau area to more clearly mark their traps. Juneau residents had an opportunity to comment during an Oct. 19 meeting at Centennial Hall. They also were able to submit written comments.

Most people at the Wrangell meeting are likely to be local people, Fish and Game officials and advisory committee representatives, said Jim Marcotte, executive director of the Board of Fish.

The most controversial issue is a pair of proposals to expand brown bear hunting on Admiralty Island to areas near the Pack Creek Brown Bear Viewing Area, a popular tourist destination during the summer months.

The proposals, 13 and 15, would allow hunting on Swan Cove and Swan Island and the area adjacent to the creek. A vocal opposition worries that bears accustomed to humans at the viewing site would later be hunting targets.

Backers of the hunting proposals say the closures reflect the state's propensity for over-regulation. They say keeping hunters out of the area limits the chances to take trophy brown bears - males that many claim are not frequent visitors at Pack Creek. The proposal is expected to come up early in the session since it is listed as item No. 3 for discussion.

Propositions 39 and 40 also have gotten some heat in recent months.

These two would extend the wolf hunting season throughout the Southeast. They also would allow wolves to be taken via a method called "same-day fly and shoot" in the Chilkat Valley. The proposal has stirred heated argument because it allows hunters to spot an animal from the air, then land and track the animal down.

Proponents say the moose population in the area is dwindling because of wolves. Opponents worry that a precedent will be set for the state. They question the data used to estimate the moose population.

Other items on the agenda include:

* Propositions 1 and 4: Stricter regulations for Juneau's trappers, particularly near trails, forcing them to mark traps for hikers to see.

* Proposition 16: Opening bear hunting near Angoon's city limits to cut down on the number of pesky garbage-seeking bears.

* Proposition 14: Prohibiting bear hunting at Rudyerd Bay and Walker Cove near Ketchikan in favor of animal viewing.

* Proposition 45: Reissuing military personnel serving in combat zones the hunting permits they won during lotteries. This would allow them to use the permits when they return from duty.

Board of Game members are expected to start the meeting Friday with personal ethics disclosures. Department of Fish and Game wildlife biologists will then deliver their report, which includes recommended actions for all 47 proposals.

Members of the public who have signed up to comment will then be able to speak. In the past, Marcotte said, this section of the meeting has lasted for one to 1 1/2 days.

Board members will then address the proposals in the order listed on their so-called road map, a guide to the long agenda.

The Board of Game meets every two years in the region to address issues important to the Southeast. Any member of the public, agency, or organization can submit a proposal for consideration; all proposals must be discussed, even though the board is not obligated to act on them.

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