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Thread: NEW Kenai Brown Bear Population Estimate

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    Member Steve H.'s Avatar
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    Default NEW Kenai Brown Bear Population Estimate

    Still seems a bit (lot?) lite to me.....

    "This Week: Release of the report “The Kenai Brown Bear Population on Kenai National Wildlife Refuge & Chugach National Forest”:
    The Chugach NF with the KNWR – USFWS will be issuing joint press releases this week on the release of this report in coordination with ADF&G. This report describes the results of a 2010 field study conducted to produce a first estimate of brown bear population size on the Kenai Peninsula using local field data. The study’s lead scientists were: Dr. John Morton – KNWR, Martin Bray- USFS, Dr. Greg Hayward – USFS along with Dr. David Paetkau (DNA analysis) and Dr. Gary White (conducted data analyses which generated the population estimate). The best estimate of brown bears on the Kenai Peninsula is 624. Scientists arrived at the final estimate for the Peninsula through two steps. First, they used sophisticated field methods and DNA analysis to sample the brown bear population on a well-defined study area that included 70% of available habitat. This yielded an estimate of 428 brown bears (95% CI = 353-539) on the 2.9 million acre study area. The scientists then used the best estimate of brown bears on the study area to expand the estimate to available bear habitat on the entire Peninsula, producing the estimated total of 624 bears. The report will be available on both agency websites."

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    Member Hunt&FishAK's Avatar
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    Id say there are 600+ Browns that live on the Kenai River system alone.....I wonder what the study area consisted of? There are high densities near Seward, quartz creek, moose pass, hope area, portage, all along the Kenai from Kenai lake to soldotna. Tustemena lake I would think as well .... I don't think they are anywhere near an accurate estimate....



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    Member Redlander's Avatar
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    Okay, it's been 15+ years since I got my Master's degree in forest wildlife management, but I can you that their confidence interval is very wide. I can also tell you that the biologists have seriously underestimted the black bears in Louisiana prior to their hair snagging studies. Same thing in Oklahoma - in the second year of their quota hunt which was for 20 bears, they reached it plus twelve in the first 24 hrs. I believe bears are very apt to be underestimated as far a numbers go.

    Same thing is happening with wolves in the Rockies and the Upper Midwest. And I'm not saying the biologists are trying to mislead anyone, it's just that the science is not as easy as or cut-n-dried as some people would like to think.

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    I know F&G had issues with the original numbers the Feds were finding, I wonder if they've reached an agreement yet.

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    Well, lets look on the bright side. I think its 2 or 3 times higher than the original uninformed estimates that felt the Kenai brown bears were an isolated, small unique subpopulation that couldnt be hunted. Now maybe we can keep up the registration hunt and harvest some reasonable numbers of bears down here!
    “I come home with an honestly earned feeling that something good has taken place. It makes no difference whether I got anything, it has to do with how the day was spent. “ Fred Bear

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    Member 4merguide's Avatar
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    Well.......seeing that until recently they hadn't had a "real" bear count since 84', and yet they still kept us from a regular hunting season on them. I'm glad they allowed a reg. hunt, but with them now coming up with this count.......sorry, but I don't put a lot of faith in their accuracy.
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    Member 0321Tony's Avatar
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    Default Re: NEW Kenai Brown Bear Population Estimate

    The method they gathered the data and the areas they were allowed to set up their bait sites was not even close to the 70% of total area like they claim they sampled.
    They had to follow the same baiting rules that hunters have to so that leaves out most of the refuge they couldn't even test.
    That number is disgustingly low they are still going with the same number of bears that they have said were here 20 years ago when you never seen them (400-600). Now they are everywhere even in places you never seen them before and they expect us to believe the population is still about the same as it was.
    I wonder if know they think they know how many are here if it will be managed like it was and not have a season for 10 years at a time.

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    Member tbone131's Avatar
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    Default NEW Kenai Brown Bear Population Estimate

    So where is this article at? Has it not been published yet? I was wanting to read the study. I looked on both agency sites and found nothing as of yet.

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tbone131 View Post
    So where is this article at? Has it not been published yet? I was wanting to read the study. I looked on both agency sites and found nothing as of yet.
    http://www.fws.gov/uploadedFiles/Kenai_brown_bear_population_estimate_2012.pdf

    www.fs.usda.gov/chugach
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    Still guys, even if its low the current harvest was 35 bears over three years. Now even with a conservative harvest of 5% that's 30 bears a year or triple the current harvest. I say general season for everyone if my numbers are close. Something to get excited about.
    “I come home with an honestly earned feeling that something good has taken place. It makes no difference whether I got anything, it has to do with how the day was spent. “ Fred Bear

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    The number of folks moving to Kenai peninsula since the 1984 count is up 20,000 people so I do believe more people are seeing bears.
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amigo Will View Post
    The number of folks moving to Kenai peninsula since the 1984 count is up 20,000 people so I do believe more people are seeing bears.
    ...and vice versa.
    ...he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. ~Thomas Jefferson
    I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief. ~Gerry Spence
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    Member tbone131's Avatar
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    Default NEW Kenai Brown Bear Population Estimate

    Thanks for the link. Reading it now

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    Member homerdave's Avatar
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    Default NEW Kenai Brown Bear Population Estimate

    The dept comments on proposals affecting the kenai re available to read here:
    http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm...rd.meetinginfo
    Of relevance is the dept "Amend and adopt" on prop 153. This would provide a general season to reduce numbers of brownies around areas where bears are considered a problem, yet also allow for draw or registration trophy hunting in the remainder of the units.
    Alaska Board of Game 2015 tour... "Kicking the can down the road"
    http://www.alaskabackcountryhunters.org/

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    Member cdubbin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve H. View Post
    The best estimate of brown bears on the Kenai Peninsula is 624.
    Does seem a tad low; lay out the whole peninsula on a 5-mile grid, that's one bear in each one.
    "– Gas boats are bad enough, autos are an invention of the devil, and airplanes are worse." ~Allen Hasselborg

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    Quote Originally Posted by 0321Tony View Post
    .....Now they are everywhere even in places you never seen them before....
    You mean like 10'ers walking into downtown Soldotna in broad daylight on a busy summer day looking for something to eat...??? I've heard there were more than just that one the cop shot. And it was another big one too.
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    Member tustumena_lake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iofthetaiga View Post
    http://www.fws.gov/uploadedFiles/Kenai_brown_bear_population_estimate_2012.pdf

    www.fs.usda.gov/chugach
    thanks for posting up the link. i read the whole report and a lot of it was over my head. but i got a lot out of the drawings at the end, as i suspected tustumena got the most hair samples in any one concentrated area. it surprised me the lack of brown bears in the resurrection river drainage (flowing into seward). i have walked that river bed before in june and seen lots of tracks. i guess they weren't interested in the bait stations and were not counted ?

    tustumena
    brownbear.jpg

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    Quote Originally Posted by Amigo Will View Post
    The number of folks moving to Kenai peninsula since the 1984 count is up 20,000 people so I do believe more people are seeing bears.
    I have lived here 38 years now the first 25 years I had seen 1 brown bear that was on the Russian River. In the last 13 years I have seen over 30 brown and have been charged 5 times. My moose hunting arena went from never seeing sign of a bear to every where you look you see sign.
    Bow hunters do it with longer shafts

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    From the collection methods, it seems they are only positive of 211 bears being alive on the Peninsula in 2010. The final number came from extrapolation. I'd be very leery of that number 624 for one reason. The bears were "attracted" to the hair traps. The only thing I can think of working as an attractant would be bait or food. So they artificially increased the number of bears in the hair trap areas to get samples, then used those artificially inflated numbers to extrapolate a population for the whole Peninsula? Sounds iffy to me. Bears will travel great distances to a food source. Think Brooks Falls where bears come from hundreds of miles around to feed. Or even all the bears recently attracted by the dipnet fishery on the Kenai. I've seen pictures of 30+ bears attracted by a dead whale in Kukak Bay and seen first hand 25+ bears at the King Cove dump, but if you extrapolate that number over the whole Alaska Peninsula, you'd be way off on your calculations.

    I don't doubt there are more bears than were actually documented in this study, but I do doubt the population is as high as is estimated
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    This study in my opinion leaves more questions than answers. In the Discussion portion it states they knew of 41 bears in the area and only recovered hair samples and DNA matched to 4 of those 41. So in my mind that means they possibly only got hair samples of 10 percent of the bears. With 166 confirmed samples some simple math could come up with way more than their estimate.

    They didn't catch bears multiple times like they were hoping when the study originated and the overwhelming majority of bears were only caught once, which tells me their stations were too spread out and weren't hit very often. I think that was another mistake is they spread these stations out over too big of an area. Plus I'm not confident that they made these stations "stinky" enough. In my experience bear baiting it takes a lot of scent to first bring those bears into an area they aren't used to getting food. 3 liters of cows blood and some fish oil poured out on the ground I don't think is near attractive enough, especially if it rains at all.

    I think something interesting fish and game could do with the DNA of these bears is run all the bears that were harvested in the hunting season this fall and see if any were caught in this study. If none or very few of the harvested bears match up with DNA from the bears in this study then it presents more evidence that they didn't get hair samples from very many of the KP bears.

    They even admitted in the discussion portion this number is most likely low and that doesn't really surprise me because with the politics surrounding KP bears. I do appreciate them printing some of the data ADF&G has collected on collared KP bears over the years. In my mind that was the best and most interesting part of this paper.

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