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Katmai Bear Hunt: Outfitter Says It's No Walk in the Woods

Scott Dickerson photo.

Trophy hunters didn't have to range far to find a brown bear to kill in Katmai National Preserve. Scott Dickerson photo, used with permission.

An outfitter whose clients at close range gunned down brown bears in Katmai National Preserve contends the hunt is not akin to "shooting fish in a barrel." And Jim Hamilton, who owns True North Adventures, claims those who filmed portions of the hunt ruined the hunters' experience.

"There are no mechanized vehicles used to locate or stalk animals, they are not fenced or held captive by any unnatural means," Mr. Hamilton said in a written statement he sent to KTUU TV.

The outfitter went on to say Monday, the first day of the fall hunt in Katmai National Preserve, was a "very sad day ... (the) hunters were participating in a perfectly legal hunt (and) had their entire experience ruined by others who chose to use illegal methods to harass and interfere with their hunt."

But Sean Farley, the regional biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game who's responsible for the area where the hunt was conducted, agreed Friday that the hunt is "not fair chase."

"I feel personally remiss as the regional biologist that I haven't thought it out that this is what's going on out there," Farley told the Anchorage Daily News. "Not until I saw the video did I realize how bad it is. It's not appropriate."

Park Service officials, meanwhile, say the hunts are not threatening the Preserve's bear population.

"In recent surveys in August, we counted 330 bears in the preserve -- about a bear every square mile -- and that's a high density of bears," John Quinley, the agency's spokesman in Alaska, told KTUU. "That's what the law requires. Our management aims are for a high density of bears and we think we are achieving that."

But among the questions that need to be addressed is whether a healthy population justifies what has turned out to be a slaughter of arguably habituated animals taken only for their hides and skulls, not for subsistence.

You can find more coverage of this story here.


For anyone who would like a better visual of this year's bear hunt out on Katmai go to he's a photographer that took many still images of the bears milling around the hunters plane and camps. I think it further drives home just how simple it was for these guys to walk up to their animals and shoot!!

Wow Anonymous---Do you realize Congresspeople do not listen to people named anonymous? Mr. & Mrs. Anonymous do not get to vote and for that reason they are not heard. For your information, I also did not appreciate the hunt that was portrayed in this particular video.




Just a few comments with a little different thought to process. It is unfortunate the park rangers felt they had to take the lives of two bears to protect the camera people that wanted to take pictures the following summer season--the bears may have found an alternative food source that should have been "fair game" for them. The bears could have enjoyed both the fish run and the people run. Also be sure and tell your bear adventure pilots, bringing you to the streams so you can take pictures, to leave their firearms at home, that if confronted by a bear, you can handle the controversy you are causing with your cameras. I would be willing to suggest 3 days after this unfortunate set of circumstances that occurred at Katmai, you would have had trouble finding a camera person looking for such a hearty adventure. The winds started blowing 35-50 mph, the temperatures dropped, the bears suddenly headed for the mountains toward their hiberation hideouts, and likely the only people left were a few hearty hunters and a few dedicated guides that are tough enough to weather the storm. Take a moment to discuss the difference between the summer bears, that camera people shoot, and their attitude toward people while lots of food source is traveling up the streams, and the fall/winter bears that are shot by people (the same Fall bears that were hungry enough to change their food diet to Timothy & Guest), as the fish diet dissapated late in the Fall. If the summer people are right about their appraisal of these bears' habits, they should feel free to go back to their camping spots, next to the streams, in the middle of bear country the entire month of October. and get up close and personal. Possibly these wonderful creatures of beauty have more than one side--I most certainly do.

I have traveled to many places viewing and documenting our natural treasures. No place has touched me and my family as has Alaska and specifically the Katmai bears. The first and number one question asked is did you see a bear. I can not accept the brutal and unabated slaughter of Alskas brown bears on Katmai. This is not fair chase hunting and in fact it's not hunting at all. No more than wealthy people with unethical tendencies little hearts and huge egos. I have spent several years out on Katmai and have noticed a significant decrease in the number of bears especially the big males. These bears are exposed to large numbers of people throughout the fishing and viewing season and have become habituated to humans. It's extremely unethical and unfair to be able to step off a plane walk a few feet and blast away at these animals. I would like to thank my extended family Ken and Chris Day, Derek Stonorov and everyone else for their toerless efforts to bring this brutal bear killing to an immediate hault. It's quite ironic that Alaskans picked the bear to be on one of it's coins. I urge those in power to have compassion and stop this at once.

There is no need to have an unrestricted open hunt on the Katmai. I have been to the Katmai for the past 8 years. The number of bears decrease every year. I haven't seen a large male in several years. The polar bears attack because they have no food, this is not the case with the bears on the Katmai. They have plenty to eat, hence their size. I am going to assume you have never been out on the Katmai, because if you spent any time out there you would know how wrong you are regarding the bears' behavior. Fisherman camp in the streams among the bears every year with no fear. Where are all these animals who are going to eat the meat? I have camped out on the Katmai and I wonder what your comments are based on.

Have you ever been to the Katmai for bear viewing? I have for the last 8 years. I have NEVER seen a roughe bear. What I do see is decreasing numbers year after year. I can't tell you the last time I saw a large male on the Katmai. These bears will allow you to come within 50 feet of them, I camped on the Katmai as do many fishermen and you know what? I have never heard of anyone coming up missing. Get Educated.

I have been going to the Katmai for 8 years. I did not see ANY males over the age of 4 this year. IS THAT MANAGEMENT? I am not debating hunting, I am questioning the your insistance that there is number management in that location and a fair hunt. I have camped on the Katmai and these bears are basically tame. Why not shoot animals in a zoo? The odds of a kill are about the same.

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