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Thread: Kenai Black Bear Population

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    Default Kenai Black Bear Population

    Hi Folks,

    Been lurking on this forum for over 10 years, figure it's time I post something. I spent a lot of time (several days per week) in the mountains on the Kenai Peninsula last spring through fall, a lot of that time off the beaten track, and only saw black bears twice. Not a whole lot of sign, either. I was surprised based on what I've read here. A couple locals told me they have seen less and less blackies lately. Can anyone confirm this? My only theory is that last year was such a phenomenal highbush blueberry year that the bears were hanging out in the timber not having to move much. Even found areas in November where the bushes were still loaded with berries even though all the leaves were dropped. I picked five gallons one day without moving more than 100 yards. Thoughts?

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    I don't give any weight to my visual sightings of Black Bear as it may relate to the local population. I rely fully on careful inspection each footprint through out the summer, to judge the "relative" population increase/decline, both year over year and Ursus Americanus population relative to Ursus Arctos (Horribilis).

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    I spend a lot of time across Kachemak Bay and have 3 game cameras up over there. There are more blackies now than I've ever seen. We had 2 close encounters with sows/cubs last summer, enough so that I bought an assault shotgun for when I'm hiking now. I can reasonably say that I see a bear ever other time that I'm hiking to the lake. Don't let the nay sayers tell you that they are on the decline. I have the game camera pictures to prove it.

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    It's my belief that the Brownies have replaced, driven out, eaten the black bears in my area. Out North. I just picked up my game camera media cards from last summer. Not one black bear on three cards. All brown.
    Hunt Ethically. Respect the Environment.

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    I made three or four day trips along the Seward highway in late September early October and I saw three adult black bears, two had two cubs each.

    Curious what AGL4Now is seeing in his area. He puts lots of time in hiking and knows bears.

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    I don't think my information is very (if at all) relevant to any area other than my little Six-Mile Creek Valley, because ninety plus percent of my hiking is with-in five miles of my cabin. As for Black Bears there has over the last ten to fifteen years, been a steady increase in the percentage of Sows with cubs relative to adult Black Bears without cubs. Or stated differently there are fewer solo adult Black Bears now then ten or fifteen years ago, and more adult sows with cubs now. I assume this is the result of hunting, however there remains a healthy population of adult solo Black Bear.

    However hunters that I talk to, state that their cameras show fewer Black Bears of all sizes over the last two or three years. And they mention stations being controlled by Brown Bears. More than half of the regular year after year bait stations sites have not been operated the last two seasons. I think baiting harvest peaked three years ago in this area. I would not currently recommend this area for new Black Bear station operators. But the area is likely fairly good for harvesting Brown Bears.

    I do find, on average two dead Black Bears each year in the ditch or on the side of the Hope Highway. These are almost always in their first or second year of life. I have never found a dead Brown Bear along the road, but I know that roughly every other year an adult Brown Bear gets killed and totals out a vehicle. I have no idea why it is that the Black Bear cubs get killed, and why only the full grown Brown Bears seem to get hit by vehicles. I assume that the Black Bear cubs are killed by vehicles........but it is possible some percentage are shot and left. I just don't know.

    Overall speaking in a very general way........The Brown Bear population is more than twice what it was ten or fifteen years ago, but not three times what is was, but clearly an ever expanding Brown Bear population. I would say the overall Black Bear population is down slightly, but the main difference is the fewer adult solo Black Bears, with a larger number of cubs, I also notice a higher percentage of Black Bear cubs reaching three years or older.

    I don't see very many Brown Bear cub tracks, I see some, but not many. Which makes me think the increase in the adult Brown Bear population is the result of adults leaving other areas for some reason. There are every year at least one or two massive Brown Bears in this area, but I think they mostly reside in the virgin wilderness on the other side of Six-Mile Creek. Which is very, very, very hard to hunt.

    Not sure the above is of any real value.


    Quote Originally Posted by AKBC View Post
    Curious what AGL4Now is seeing in his area. He puts lots of time in hiking and knows bears.

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    Thanks for the replies.

    I'll be back up that way in a month, we'll see what I can find. I've got plenty of time to hunt this spring, hopefully I'll get my first blackie. Heading up to the Tonsina area for a few days early May if the weather cooperates. Never been in that corner of AK. I'll keep y'all posted.

    On brownies, I saw the biggest tracks of my life late October in the Johnson Pass area.

    Regarding meat quality, I'm curious if heavy salmon eaters retain any poor taste the following spring. I've got a couples spots in mind that fall into this category. I'm in it primarily for the meat so I'd hate to harvest one I can't eat.

    Cheers

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    Quote Originally Posted by SmokeRoss View Post
    It's my belief that the Brownies have replaced, driven out, eaten the black bears in my area. Out North. I just picked up my game camera media cards from last summer. Not one black bear on three cards. All brown.
    Personally I believe that there are still a lot of blackies here on the KP, but, like you said, because of all the brownies I think they are just staying more hidden and on guard a lot more now.

    A couple years ago a friend had a bait set up and had a male and female brownie hitting it off and on. One night a blackie came in and didn't stick around for more than a couple seconds. He said that blackie came up towards the bait from the thickest part of the woods, stood up on the backside of a tree and actually peeked around the corner at the bait. Then just turned around and split. My buddy didn't even have enough time to get a bead on him it all happened so fast....
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    Totally agree with 4mer, the first week I went out last spring I spotted 18 blacks, all sows with cubs. The drainage where I have my best success had a brownie with cubs using it and the blacks all vacated. In the fall the brownies were down on the rivers and the black bears returned.
    "One does not hunt in order to kill; on the contrary, one kills in order to have hunted"
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    I've spent a fair amount of fall weekends over the past 4-5 years on the KP chasing black bears. Black bears up on the mountains have become one of my favorite animals to hunt. Kind of like day hunting sheep; spot them on the mountain and climb up after them. The amount of bears I've seen over the past 4-5 seems to have remained steady. Obviously on a bad berry year you won't see quite as many on the mountain but the next year they all come out again. As far as a stable huntable population, well there's definitely plenty around to hunt. My trouble isn't finding the bears, it's always finding them in a spot where I can make it to them or up and down the mountain before dark. Not to mention I'm usually hunting by myself so that makes beating the sunset a little more pressing. I'd have a lot of boring September and October weekends if I didn't have Kenai black bears to hunt.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AK Wonderer View Post
    I've spent a fair amount of fall weekends over the past 4-5 years on the KP chasing black bears. Black bears up on the mountains have become one of my favorite animals to hunt. Kind of like day hunting sheep; spot them on the mountain and climb up after them. The amount of bears I've seen over the past 4-5 seems to have remained steady. Obviously on a bad berry year you won't see quite as many on the mountain but the next year they all come out again. As far as a stable huntable population, well there's definitely plenty around to hunt. My trouble isn't finding the bears, it's always finding them in a spot where I can make it to them or up and down the mountain before dark. Not to mention I'm usually hunting by myself so that makes beating the sunset a little more pressing. I'd have a lot of boring September and October weekends if I didn't have Kenai black bears to hunt.
    My brother and I used to do just what you describe. Drive around, stopping to glass. Go after some, others got a pass for various reasons. Love those berry bears.
    Hunt Ethically. Respect the Environment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SmokeRoss View Post
    My brother and I used to do just what you describe. Drive around, stopping to glass. Go after some, others got a pass for various reasons. Love those berry bears.
    A couple years ago. 6'4" Oct. berry bear. Spot (from the road) and stalk. We saw about 6 different bears from there and this one was the "easiest" to get to....


    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    The KP is a pretty big area. Down in my neck of the woods, there are definitely less black bear around than in the past decades. I use to see them on the rivers all they this area back then. Never or rarely saw the brownies. Now it's the reverse.
    We used to always have the blacks in our neighborhood. Wifey saw one ten years ago stealing dog food off a neighbors porch one afternoon. That's about the last one we've seen in the neighborhood. But the browns are thru here every year.
    So it seems the blackies have just adjusted their hangouts.
    Your sarcasm is way, waaaayyyyyyyy more sarcastic than mine!

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    I'm a firm believer in the idea that we need to substantially reduce the numbers of brown bears. Like by half or more. If we were allowed some liberal seasons for a couple years, the trouble bears near where people live would be greatly reduced. The ones way out in the sticks would still be around (in the sticks where they belong) to reproduce.
    Hunt Ethically. Respect the Environment.

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    Sounds like a perfect plan........................................

    ..............................for humans.

    Quote Originally Posted by SmokeRoss View Post
    I'm a firm believer in the idea that we need to substantially reduce the numbers of brown bears. Like by half or more. If we were allowed some liberal seasons for a couple years, the trouble bears near where people live would be greatly reduced. The ones way out in the sticks would still be around (in the sticks where they belong) to reproduce.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AGL4now View Post
    Sounds like a perfect plan........................................

    ..............................for humans.
    You, there are a few around that we could all likely do without.
    Hunt Ethically. Respect the Environment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SmokeRoss View Post
    I'm a firm believer in the idea that we need to substantially reduce the numbers of brown bears. Like by half or more. If we were allowed some liberal seasons for a couple years, the trouble bears near where people live would be greatly reduced. The ones way out in the sticks would still be around (in the sticks where they belong) to reproduce.
    Dude, the seasons have been liberal for some years... Open right now... Go get you one...


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    Last spring on Kenai Lake we saw no Black Bear and 5 Brown bear a lot different than the last 20 years. But in the fall we saw the Black Bear in the usual areas. Last couple years spring came early and leaf cover, which makes spotting bears harder. Thinking I need to hunt a little different with the mild
    winters and early springs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by homerdave View Post
    Dude, the seasons have been liberal for some years... Open right now... Go get you one...


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    I already have a huge brown hanging on the wall. I don't eat brown bears, so won't kill another unless I have to. Black bears I eat. Bring on the blackies. Oh yeah, they're about gone.
    Hunt Ethically. Respect the Environment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SmokeRoss View Post
    Oh yeah, they're about gone.
    Naw..... In some areas probably. But I just think they have been adapting, and now tend to hang out more in areas where there are less brownies.....which is becoming more and more scarce. No proof of course, just an opinion....
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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