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Thread: Ak Hunting News: AOC Says Musk Ox on North Slope in Trouble

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    Arrow Ak Hunting News: AOC Says Musk Ox on North Slope in Trouble

    This news clip is from Alaska Hunting News. Discussion is welcome. This news feed is robot generated.

    The Alaska Outdoor Council (AOC) today published on it's website a heavily viewed YouTube.com video of a North Slope muskox herd from which a grizzly bear apparently kills two calves. In text accompanying the video a former ADFG biologist writes "....there are no muskoxen left there (ANWR) now. Yeah, that's right. Zero. This predatory behavior pattern has also now spread to Unit 26B, and I'm predicting that within about 5 years, muskoxen will be gone from the slope except for a few straggling bulls. Now that the problem is in 26B, and almost entirely on state land, we need to take action."

    The AOC page says 15 years ago the North Slope supported about 600 muskoxen -- and a small, but "highly sought-after" hunt. The problem appears to be related to grizzly bears which biologists and other observers believe to have specialized in muskox predation.

    The Council is asking members "to express concern over bear predation on musk ox on the North Slope to Gov. Palin and the Congressional delegation."


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  2. #2
    Mark
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    Quote Originally Posted by Newsbot View Post
    "....there are no muskoxen left there (ANWR) now. Yeah, that's right. Zero. This predatory behavior pattern has also now spread to Unit 26B, and I'm predicting that within about 5 years, muskoxen will be gone from the slope except for a few straggling bulls. Now that the problem is in 26B, and almost entirely on state land, we need to take action."
    From the ADFG Notebook Series:

    .....The original Alaska muskoxen disappeared in the mid- or late 1800s as they had much earlier in Europe and Asia. Overhunting likely contributed to their demise, at least in some areas. By the 1920s, muskox distribution was reduced to arctic Canada and East Greenland where a high take by whalers, hide hunters, and natives continued......
    Note that there are no brown bears in the eastern Canadian arctic or in Greenland.

    Perhaps brown bear predation is what killed them off here in the first place?

    .....Concern over the impending extinction of the species worldwide led to a move to restore a protected population to Alaska. In 1930, 34 muskoxen captured in East Greenland were brought to Fairbanks. In 1935 and 1936, all survivors and their calves were transported from Fairbanks to Nunivak Island and released. Muskoxen thrived on Nunivak Island and increased from 31 in 1936 to an estimated 750 by 1968........
    Note that there are no brown bears on Nunivak Island, either.

    .....Population: In 1990, approximately 2,220 free-ranging muskoxen resided in Alaska: 500 on Nunivak Island, 220 on Nelson Island, 500 in northern Alaska, 130 in northwestern Alaska, 700 on the Seward Peninsula, 150 on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, with an additional 105 animals in captivity in domestic herds, research herds, and the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage......
    Perhaps the islands are the best place for them? Otherwise we might just be feeding the bears.

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    Member AKBassking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark View Post
    Perhaps the islands are the best place for them? Otherwise we might just be feeding the bears.

    Solution is easy! Shoot the bears!

    ALASKAN SEA-DUCTION
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  4. #4
    Mark
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKBassking View Post
    Solution is easy! Shoot the bears!
    Nobody wants to pay the exorbitant costs of access to hunt those small, Arctic brown bears in such poor densities as 1 bear per 300 sq. mi.

    There are larger densities of larger bears in areas that are exponentially cheaper to get to.

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    Member AKBassking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark View Post
    Nobody wants to pay the exorbitant costs of access to hunt those small, Arctic brown bears in such poor densities as 1 bear per 300 sq. mi.

    There are larger densities of larger bears in areas that are exponentially cheaper to get to.

    But it won't save those tasty Musk ox!

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    Supporting Member bullbuster's Avatar
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    Unhappy Someone call Sarah

    Maybe we could get the jet, she's not using it. While she's at it she could name us as predator control agents.
    After a frustrating adventure filled solo hunt in '98, I took a nice bull out of that herd in '99. That is one unique hunt that should never be threatened. Nothing like laying in the subzero wind and watching those animals walk over a ridge. I swear that you are expecting a mammoth to follow them. You don't have a guide talking to you, telling you every move like you're required to have on Nunivak. The wolves move freely between the musk ox and caribou herds. It's just so unlike any hunt I've ever done and it should be saved.

    I'll throw the first $100 in the hat if the state can't afford the ammo. Hell, 10 of 'em. (But I getta go too)
    Live life and love it
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    We should probably just poison all the bears in this state outside of south east, McNeil, and kodiak where they don't seem to be preying on anything but fish there. Also the lack of sea ice making traditional polar bear hunting grounds unhuntable by the bears couldn't have anything to do with it, or the melting permafrost, its clearly the bears fault, and the caribou, moose, and newly arrived salmon, plus the birds berries and everything else bears eat can't possibly sustain them.
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

  8. #8
    Mark
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    Quote Originally Posted by ak_powder_monkey View Post
    We should probably just poison all the bears in this state outside of south east, McNeil, and kodiak where they don't seem to be preying on anything but fish there......
    Nah. That's an old federal wildlife management trick. Statehood and state wildlife management was meant to put an end to such foolishness.

    ....Also the lack of sea ice making traditional polar bear hunting grounds unhuntable by the bears couldn't have anything to do with it....
    The observed behavior discussed is of brown bear predation. There is no recorded increase of polar bear predation on North Slope muskoxen that I know of.

    In fact, there have been observed brown/polar bear interaction documented. Indeed, last year, a hybrid bear was harvested:

    .....Jim Martell, a hunter from the United States, found and shot a grizzly–polar bear hybrid near Sachs Harbour on Banks Island, Northwest Territories, Canada, reportedly on April 16, 2006. Martell had been hunting for polar bears with an official license and a guide, at a cost of $50,000, and killed the animal believing it to be a normal polar bear. Officials took interest in the creature after noticing that it had thick, creamy white fur, typical of polar bears, as well as long claws; a humped back; a shallow face; and brown patches around its eyes, nose, and back, and having patches on one foot, which are all traits of grizzly bears. If the bear had been adjudicated to be a grizzly, he would have faced a possible CAN$1,000 fine and up to a year in jail.

    A DNA test conducted by Wildlife Genetics International in British Columbia confirmed that it was a hybrid, with the mother a polar bear and the father a grizzly. It is the first documented case in the wild, though it was known that this hybrid was biologically possible and other ursid hybrids have been bred in zoos in the past.....
    ...or the melting permafrost....
    I am also unaware of melting permafrost swallowing muskoxen up.

    ...its clearly the bears fault....
    That is what has been observed and recorded.

    ....and the caribou, moose, and newly arrived salmon, plus the birds berries and everything else bears eat can't possibly sustain them.
    What we are discussing here is likely the result of increased densities of both species statewide. The muskoxen were extirpated from Alaska before the arrival of Americans. The reason for the extinction believed was overhunting by aboriginals. The muskoxen was re-established by man.

    We are now being shown that brown bears can extirpate them. And it is well documented that brown bear densities statewide are at the highest levels recorded.

    1 + 1 = 2.

    Twisting the issue into one of global warming is premature at best, and it certainly doesn't place man at the helm of global climate.

  9. #9

    Default Predator Control

    The video shows 2 calves being killed but actually 3 got snuffed. Two days later i watched the bear head to the heard 1/2 mile away. In less than 20 min. it killed again. This was a less than 6 hour old calf. I called the area bio in fairbanks to relay what i saw. 3 days later they contacted me again this time they were on the slope doing muskox/caribou calving surveys. They confirmed that the bears are killing off the muskox. Someone needs to write a proposal to BOG to a least extend the bear season in the spring to cover the calving season. The muskox heards do not travel much and i am sure that fish and game would gladly give the locations of the heards. This would be a easy way to kill a slope grizz.

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    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    This puts a whole new spin on my own support for reintroducing wood bison in the interior.

    Tony, are you the unnamed former biologist quoted on the AOC page? I'm rather uncomfortable with the ostensible unsaid options here...a choice between slope grizzlies and muskoxen. And if the muskox herd should be saved, I don't think it should be saved just so we can hunt them, but for bigger, broader reasons...just like the wood bison. From what I know of 26B, there have been overharvests of grizz in the past, then a curtailing of harvests, then what we have now. I don't know the harvestable surplus as determined by area bios but I do know that population of bears can be easily diminished by over hunting.Tough call.



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    Member martentrapper's Avatar
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    Hey Mark, no point in spending money on bison. The bears will just kill them.

    Why a choice between bears and ox? Can't we hunt the bears enough to allow for some of both?
    Bigger broader reasons? Does that mean we will have bigger, broader sources of funding...........or the same hunter dollars that always fund reintroduction?
    Over harvest of griz? How do you determine that? 26B has a little better access than A or C, but any harvest in B could be replaced with bears from A and C. Also 25 and 24.
    The bear season in GMU 22 is about as generous as it can be. Plenty of folks out hunting. Mostly open country with good visibility. 1 bear a year bag limit. Still haven't "diminished" the bear pop by much.
    When it comes to bears, one persons "over" harvest is anothers under!
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    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Mike, I was basing my comments on 26B on interviews I did with Harry Reynolds, will have to dig them up. Off the cuff I recall him saying that there was an overharvest at one point...kinda ties into the AOC article by Valkenburg about differing views on what harvest rates are sustainable, and how each area differs. Some areas get an influx/immigration from other areas, not sure about 26B in that regard.
    Got no problem with bear hunting if there is a determined HS, or season changes to protect the muskox. It's one of those things though where it's likely this is being done by just a few bears who've learned to prey on them, so you'd have to take out those particular bears. Seems like the situation will just keep coming up...sort of a catch-22.

    In any case, I think everyone considering support for the wood bison reintroduction should look at this issue pretty closely. I'll drop Buffalo Bob a note on it, see what he says. Be interested in other opinions on how this may affect support or reality of reintroducing wood bison.

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    Member Matt's Avatar
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    This is hilarious. We got an 'overharvest' of bears up there and these 'overharvested' bears are really laying the smack down on the diminishing ox herds up there. What's a man to do?

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    Default just wondering....

    How prolific are the wood bison? Introduction sounds like an interesting concept. Would the forage be overburdened for resident moose pops in most areas?
    Frank

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    Frank,

    The wood bison are grazers, while moose are browsers so the two species shouldn't compete for forage. I heard on the news tonight that they are planning to possibly bring 50 wood bison calves from Elk Island NP in Alberta to supplement those currently near Portage. That seed herd could be used to start reintroductions as soon as 2010 provided that the bovine import ban from Canada is amended.

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    Default Too many bears

    I did a sheep hunt out of Kaktovik last fall. Saw grizzlies every day but not a single muskox. Did my part however and killed a nice bear.

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    From the video it appears that once you get muskoxen moving all you have to do is get them moving faster and the calves will be easy pickings. If that's common then even dogs would have a good chance at them. It would likely take something like a crash in the bear population to bring numbers back up, surely wolves get their share as well. Just might be a bigger problem than it looks.

    I would think bison with available cover would be a more difficult prey. Not to mention that they would be less likely to find themselves alone in an area without an alternate prey species and be the only thing on the grill.

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    Mark
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bowshop Monkey View Post
    From the video it appears that once you get muskoxen moving all you have to do is get them moving faster and the calves will be easy pickings. If that's common then even dogs would have a good chance at them. It would likely take something like a crash in the bear population to bring numbers back up, surely wolves get their share as well. Just might be a bigger problem than it looks.....
    They went extinct. Apparently, it was easy.

    Even if it wasn't humans that killed them off like the encyclopedias claimed.

    ....I would think bison with available cover would be a more difficult prey....
    I agree.

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    Well I guess it would be like trying to raise a herd of hamsters in the house, gonna have to kill off the wives cat to do it and we both know how that's going to fly with Mrs. Public.

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    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Default wood bison differences

    Heard back from Bob Stephenson, the wood bison reintro biologist. He said there isn't any place they know of where grizzlies have become habitual predators of bison (plains or wood), and that bison are several times larger than muskoxen, with more speed and endurance. He figures wolves will learn to take some (juvenile) bison but that since bison are so much harder to kill than moose that it won't be that much of a factor in their overall survival.

    So there ya go...wanted to update folks on that.


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