A hearing has been scheduled for December 12 at Denali National Park and Preserve to take public comment on proposed changes to bear, wolf, and coyote hunting in National Park System units in Alaska.
The proposed changes would prohibit taking brown bears over bait stations, using artificial light to take black bears at dens, taking black bear cubs and sows with cubs, and would shorten the season for hunting wolves and coyotes.
The proposed restrictions renew a previous temporary prohibition on taking black bears at dens and black bear cubs and sows with cubs.The restrictions also respond to recent changes to State of Alaska hunting regulations. Those changes included allowing the killing of brown bears over bait stations in three game management units, which included portions of three national preserves.
The proposed prohibition reflects the NPS concerns about the dangers of food-conditioned bears, as well as the potential impact to the natural abundance, behavior, distribution, and ecological integrity of brown bear populations.
Alaska officials also have extended the hunting season for wolves and coyotes into the summer in several areas, including nine national preserves. The Park Service is proposing to prohibit the take between May 1 and August 9 because it is the period when wolves and coyotes are denning and raising offspring and their pelts have little trophy or economic value.
The hearing is the first step leading to the potential implementation of restrictions in the annual Superintendent's Compendium, an annual compilation of temporary closures and similar restrictions.
After taking into consideration public comments, the National Park Service may include hunting restrictions in the draft Compendium, which will be released on January 15, 2013.
A 30-day public comment period will also be held for the draft compendiums, with a final compendium expected to go into effect on April 1, 2013.
The Denali Preserve hearing will begin at 5 p.m. at the Murie Science and Learning Center in Denali National Park.