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Help the McNeil Bear Sanctuary off linmits to hunting

Alaska Fish and Game Calls Controversial Bear-Snaring Program a Success

Jason Moore / KTUU-TV / September 8, 2009

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- A controversial predator control program that allowed trappers to snare bears and then kill them has ended for the season.

The program was instituted this summer in Game Management Unit 16B across Cook Inlet from Anchorage, and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is calling it a success.

The program was part of an effort to kill bears so more moose calves could survive in places like the Yentna River drainage.

The Alaska Board of Game adopted the program at its meeting in March, and officials say eight permitted trappers set out this summer into Unit 16B for the state's first-ever predator control program for bears using snares.

Fish and Game assistant commissioner Corey Rossi described how the snares work.

"The snare hangs right over the opening of that bucket, and then there's a baited trigger inside that bucket," Rossi said. "So the bear reaches his paw into the bucket, when he pulls that bait, the thing closes, and it essentially grabs him by the forearm."

Once the bear is snared, the trapper shoots and kills it.

Fish and Game says trappers claimed 81 black bears over the summer. They also caught eight brown bears -- five were released and three others had to be euthanized.

Considering the stats, Fish and Game says the program appears to be a success.

"It went pretty flawlessly, considering all the controversy that was associated with it up front," Rossi said. "There were a number of folks who were pretty concerned with how this would turn out."

Biologists say in Game Unit 16B, about 144 moose calves are produced for every 100 cows, but by the fall the number of calves plummets to between 12 and 21. Fish and Game places the blame largely on bears.

"The important number for us is going to be how many of those moose calves are we able to save from bear predation by this fall," Rossi said.

So, while early indications suggest the program did what it intended to do, the final verdict is still out.
Contact Jason Moore at jmoore@ktuu.com


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