Groups React To Aerial Bear Hunting Plan

Wildlife conservation groups are concerned by the state’s plan to shoot bears from aircraft. Valerie Connor is the conservation director at the Alaska Center for the Environment.  She says no other state allows aerial predator control of bears. And she says the plan makes it too easy for the department to over harvest the animals.

“They’re going to shoot every bear they see. That’s the program, it’s basically a bear extermination program in 540 square miles of land, so any bear coming through there will die,” Connor said.

Another proposal that passed at the January Board of Game meeting allows Department employees to shoot Brown Bears from aircraft in game unit 26b on the North Slope. The proposal is aimed at boosting Musk Ox population numbers and is scheduled to take effect this spring. Connor says both aerial predator control programs passed with very little input from the public.

But the Alaska Center for the Environment is more concerned about a proposal that would allow bear snaring. That usually involves trapping a bear’s paw in a bait bucket hanging in a tree. She says that plan is especially disturbing because it allows the public to participate in killing the bears. There is no bag limit. Connor says the proposals are pushing the state in a disturbing direction when it comes to wildlife management.

“This administration has taken wildlife management to a new low. Never before have we allowed snaring of bears, never before have we allowed killing bears from airplanes. Now suddenly, here we are we’re going to allow both of those methods in big tracks of the state,” Connor said.

The bear snaring proposal will be considered later at the Board of Game meeting. The meeting is scheduled to continue through Monday in Fairbanks.

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Annie Feidt is the Editor and Producer of Alaska News Nightly, and is also a frequent contributor to the show. Her reporting has taken her searching for polar bears on the Chukchi Sea ice, out to remote checkpoints on the Iditarod Trail, and up on the Eklutna Glacier with scientists studying its retreat. Her stories have been heard nationally on NPR and Marketplace.

Annie’s career in radio journalism began in 1998 at Minnesota Public Radio, where she produced the regional edition of All Things Considered. She moved to Anchorage in 2004 with her husband, intending to stay in the 49thstate just a few years. She has no plans to leave anytime soon.

afeidt (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8443 | About Annie