Wolf Song of Alaska News
Board Proposes Bear Hunt in Admiralty Refuge

Plan for hunt in remote bear-viewing area is at odds with Fish and Game

Elizabeth Bluemink / Juneau Empire / November 7, 2004

The Alaska Board of Game wants to open brown bear hunting in Angoon and in Admiralty Island's Pack Creek bear refuge, but it won't decide until 2006.

The board's proposed bear hunt at Swan Cove - a remote brown bear-viewing area with an expansive tidal flat - is at odds with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's recommendation to keep it closed.

The board backed off its review of closures in other portions of the Pack Creek bear refuge on Friday, the concluding day of its regional meeting in Juneau that began Nov. 2.

Sitka subsistence hunter John Littlefield criticized the Swan Creek proposal because of its potential impact on tourism. Swan Cove has been off limits to bear hunting since 1984.

"Asking hunters to go two miles away is completely reasonable," he said.

The board's Angoon proposal arose from residents' complaints that all meat must be surrendered to the state when the village's plentiful nuisance bears - which browse the dump - are killed. It was initiated by board member Ron Somerville of Juneau.

Fish and Game regional supervisor Doug Larsen said he is pleased the board is allowing time for additional public comment and meetings on the two proposals.

"To the board's credit, they didn't do anything here," Larsen said.

Also on Friday, the board voted to open to predator control 20,000 square miles in Interior Alaska and the eastern North Slope. Wildlife advocates said up to 400 wolves could be killed annually in the program, on top of the existing wolf harvest in those areas.

In March, the board increased its predator-control program in Interior Alaska to a total of 30,000 square miles. About 500 wolves were expected to be killed, as well as some grizzly bears, to reduce predation on moose.

Karen Deatherage, state program associate for Defenders of Wildlife, said she is relieved that the board removed Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve and other federal lands from its proposal.

The National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had sent letters to the board asking it to allow their lands to be excluded from predator control.

But Deatherage said the board's decision still could affect one-half to one-third of Alaska's wolf population.

"This poses a serious conservation issue," Deatherage said.

The board will not meet in Juneau again until 2006.

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