National Park Service Proposing Hunting Restrictions In Alaskan Units

The National Park Service, responding to the state of Alaska's liberalized hunting seasons for predators, is proposing to shorten the hunting seasons in some of its units in the state.

The Park Service is now taking public comments on temporary restrictions for certain sport hunting practices in several national preserves in Alaska through March 22.

"The restrictions generally mirror those in place last year. These restrictions are in response to decisions by the Alaska Board of Game to liberalize hunting seasons and methods for wolves, coyotes, and bears," a Park Service release said. "The board has also rejected proposals by the National Park Service to exclude preserves from these practices, an action that would have made federal restrictions unnecessary."

Units affected by this proposal are Alagnak Wild River, Katmai National Park and Preserve, and Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve.

The restrictions include:

* Shortening the open season for wolves and coyotes. Under the proposed rule, wolf and coyote hunting would be open from August 10 through April 30. This would prevent the taking of wolves and pups at den sites during the early summer when the animals are vulnerable and their pelts are in poor condition.

* Prohibiting the use of bait for the taking of brown bears. Until recently, the practice had been prohibited since Statehood and is the only such allowance in North America. The NPS is proposing to prohibit the practice to avoid public safety issues that can arise with bears conditioned to finding human food.

* Prohibiting the use of artificial light when taking black bear sows or cubs at den sites. This practice was opened to all resident hunting license holders in 2010.

The full text of the restrictions for each affected national preserve can be found at this web page.

Public hearings will be held in a community in or near each of the affected national preserves during the weeks of March 10 and March 17. In addition, hearings will be held in Anchorage and Fairbanks, and written comments may be mailed. The NPS will also open a Facebook chat on the topic on March 20 from 10 a.m. to noon and postings will be retained for the record.

The public hearing schedule for Katmai, Aniakchak, and Alagnak is as follows:

Location: Bristol Bay Borough Assembly Chambers in Naknek

Date and Time: Thursday, March 13, 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m.

Comments in writing should be sent to 240 W. 5th Avenue, Anchorage, AK 99501, or emailed to AKRO_compendium@nps.gov.

Additional hearings:

Gates of the Arctic National Preserve

Fairbanks, Monday, March 10, 6 p.m.‐7:30 p.m. Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor Center

Bettles, Monday, March 10, 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Bettles Ranger Station

Yukon‐Charley Rivers National Preserve

Eagle, Tuesday, March 11, 6 p.m.‐7:30 p.m., Eagle Public Library

Noatak National Preserve

Kotzebue, Monday, March 11, 6 p.m.‐7:30 p.m. NPS Heritage Center, Kotzebue

Lake Clark National Preserve

Port Alsworth, Wednesday, March 12, 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m. NPS Visitor Center, Port Alsworth

Denali National Preserve

Denali Park, Thursday, March 13, 6:30-8 p.m. Murie Science and Learning Center

Katmai National Preserve, Aniakchak National Preserve

King Salmon, Thursday, March 13, 7-8:30 p.m. Bristol Bay Borough Assembly Chambers

Bering Land Bridge National Preserve

Nome, Monday, March 17, 6‐7:30 p.m 214 Front Street, Beringia Room in Nome

Wrangell‐St. Elias National Preserve

Copper Center, Monday, March 17, 4 p.m.‐5:30 p.m. Wrangell‐St. Elias N.P. Visitor Center

NPS Alaska Region

Anchorage, Tuesday, March 18, 6:45 p.m.‐8:15 p.m. Russian Jack Springs Park Chalet

Comments in writing should be sent to 240 W. 5th Avenue, Anchorage, AK 99501 or emailed to AKRO_compendium@nps.gov

Comments

Am I reading this correctly--that hunters in Alaska kill wolf pups and bear cubs?

Justinh, the part about the bear cubs, at least, is true as I'd read this same thing in a previous Traveler article. And it disturbes me just as much now as back then. I see no logic, no "sport", and no purpose in killing sows and their cubs in their own dens. It was their home before it was ever ours.

Meanwhile, in Utah, ancient petroglyphs are favorite targets of "hunters" and other gun-toting, beer-guzzling "sportsmen." But remember, it's the locals who should have the say in how our parks and public lands are run. They know what's best -- don't they?

Here's a news article from an Alaskan newspaper on this subject. According to that story, at a January meeting, "the NPS supported five proposals exempting lands managed by the agency [NPS]from baiting, snaring, spotlighting as well as shooting cubs or sows with cubs and taking wolves when they are raising cubs. The Board of Game voted all five down.

According to KTUU, the Park Service specifically proposed prohibiting wolf and coyote hunting between May 1 and Aug. 9 in federal parks and preserves, as well as the hunting of brown bears at bait stations.

"We are looking at them in terms of managing national parks and preserves as a place where we protect natural processes," said Debora Cooper, the Park Service's associate regional director for Alaska."

The state rejected the requests, saying they would "hurt Alaska Natives." That position apparently is based on the idea that wolves and bears are cutting into the potential harvest of caribou.

Here's a follow-up on my comment above about claims that wolves and bears are causing unacceptable declines in the number of caribou. Here's what the website for the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game has to say about the caribou population:

"There are approximately 750,000 wild caribou in Alaska (including some herds that are shared by Alaska and Canada's Yukon Territory). The largest herds (as of 2011) are the Western Arctic Herd at about 325,000, the Porcupine Caribou Herd at about 169,000, the Central Arctic Herd at 67,000, the Fortymile Herd at 52,000 and the Teshekpuk Herd at about 55,000. Caribou are somewhat cyclic in number, and the timing of declines and increases, and the size to which herds grow is not very predictable. Although overhunting caused some herds to remain low in the past, today, varying weather patterns (climate), population density, predation by wolves and grizzly bears, and disease outbreaks determine whether most herds increase or decrease"

Jim, Why does the state of Alaska Board of Game have authority to determine how wildlife is managed on NPS land? Is there something in the enabling legislation unique to these parks/preserves?
Lee once again doing what he does best, misrepresenting the argument. Miscreants shooting petroglyphs and state management of lands are two totally unrelated topics.
No, ec, they are most certainly not unrelated topics. Stop dodging the real issues and wake up. Better yet, come live in Utah for awhile so you can see it first hand. I'm sure things are not much different in Alaska or Arkansas or most anywhere else where controversy rages over who will best manage public lands. Unfortunately, groups that push for increased use of ATVs, unrestricted firearms, extractive industries, and other destructive practices have the ears of lawmakers because they are very loud and often ready to contribute lots of green stuff.
[quote] they are most certainly not unrelated topics [/quote] Of course they are. No one is advocating placing criminals in charge of the parks. Although given the commentary here about the NPS overlooking or even promoting those engaged in malfeasance, perhaps we could argue the feds are advocating that.
"extractive industries" Which returns to Rick's point in another discussion (and mine about how the nation/gobal capitalism is a perpetually contested boundary in how we see/value the parks).
"No one is advocating placing criminals in charge of the parks." Ever heard of politicians?
Wasn't there a pattern of that in the Bush days? I wasn't around the NPS all that much then, but stories have been told.
So Rod, who takes these discussions off in a political direction?
Yes, Rick. Lots of it. The most infamous being Mark Hoffman, an appointee of President Cheney and his little friend. Then there was Fran Mainella, good friend of the millionaire sports team owner who cut down the trees along the Potomac that led to the disgraceful treatment of Rob Danno. Those were just a few examples. But they illustrate the point that not all the criminals who might damage parks are beer-swilling dodos with ATVs or big rifles. Some are connoisseurs of fine wines who drive Jaguars and Porsches or BMWs and have enough money and power to buy whatever or whoever they want if people like us let our guard down.
Yeah, Lee. History of the Park Service, and lessons not to repeat.
Is this the guy you are talking about, Lee? http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/2009/01/paul-hoffman-still-defending-his-proposed-changes-national-park-services-management-policies
And this, Sara: http://www.commondreams.org/news2008/0812-02.htm