Wolf Song of Alaska News

Facts About McNeil River Bears Left Out of Current Hunting Argument

Letters / Anchorage Daily News / February 15, 2007

Good grief, is anybody going to include some science and complete facts in the McNeil River bear story ("McNeil bear hunt opposition grows," Feb. 12)? The article referenced the historic maximum of 144 total bears present in one year and 72 bears at one time at the falls. I started commercial fishing at McNeil in 1966; it was a sanctuary then, just no Larry Aumiller as sanctuary manager.

There was a healthy number of bears on site in the 1960s and through the 1970s. In the early 1980s, pressure to reduce commercial salmon fishing in McNeil resulted in limited chum harvest for the commercial fleet to benefit the bear population. The last year commercial chum harvest occurred in McNeil River was 1988. The reason was the bear population had increased to the point the entire run was needed to feed the bears and provide escapement. The bears keep eating more than the system could support, which resulted in McNeil River being short of escapement goals 12 out of 15 years, 1990-2004 (see the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's "2004 Lower Cook Inlet Annual Finfish Management Report," page 16). Why are these facts omitted in the news story? I don't care one way or the other if there is a hunt; my point is there is nonreporting about the science and facts.

---- Leroy L. Cabana / Homer

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