Deanna Garrison, KRBD – Ketchikan
Select populations of black bear in Southeast may be declining at a significant pace.
That’s according to multiple fish and game staff members who addressed the state board of game. The board began its five-day southeast region meeting in Ketchikan Friday.
Fish and game wildlife management coordinator Neil Barton says the state saw a sharp increase in black bear harvests in southeast in the mid-90s.
In the last several years, Barton says fish and game has noted a marked decline in the harvest rate of black bears on multiple islands within Southeast.
While some black bear populations in Southeast appear to be faring well, Barton says fish and game is concerned about a population decline on Kuiu and Kupreanoff islands. He says the highest concentration of black bear hunters has been on Prince of Wales Island, which has seen the largest drop in harvests.
About 800 black bears were harvested last year in the region. Of those, 75 percent were taken by non-resident hunters.
The apparent decline in the black bear population appears to have had a positive affect on the Prince of Wales deer population, which fish and game estimates is at a 15-year high.
Of the 46 proposed game management changes the board is slated to take up, 19 of them deal with black bear.
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