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Thread: Alaska Moose population

  1. #1

    Default Alaska Moose population

    I was reading this in the SFW Sportmen's Voice summer 2007:

    “Recently, a prominent Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) stated in Anchorage Daily News, that Alaska’s moose population numbered about 140,000 animals, and that (Under ADFG’s Management) the number has remained “stable” for the last ten years. At face value, this might seem like a decent enough management, after all every consumptive user wants “stable” sources of game. Unfortunately, there is a bit more to the story.

    To put this matter into perspective, consider that Sweden ( a country at our same latitude, but only a quarter our size) has maintained a population of 500,000 moose during the same time period. Even more ironic is that in recent years, Sweden’s moose harvest (about 150,00 animals annually) often exceeds Alaska’s entire moose population! By contrast, Alaska’s moose harvest was only 6,500 last year. That’s right, 6,500! When considered on a moose harvest per acre basis, last year Sweden outperformed Alaska’s moose management by almost 100 fold! “

    To try and paraphrase the rest of the article:

    ADFG has moved away from managing wildlife resources and has concentrated the majority of its money and manpower into managing humans ( education, outreach, focus groups, poaching enforcement etc.) ADFG has conceded that managing wildlife is a losing cause. The management scheme of the ADFG is a benefit to no one under current management practices.

    Under this crisis, all Alaskans should be outraged and demand better from a government agency. If the people of Alaska do not get involved and take charge, they may not have wildlife to manage in the future.

    What are your thoughts.....Bigmnt

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  3. #3

    Default Dave’s perspective

    Mark,

    Thanks for the link.

    I did not know that this had already been hashed around. Good read from Dave’s perspective. One thing is quite glaring though, predators and forestry do play a big part in game numbers. With all due respect to Dave and the ADFG, I feel that wildlife management can improve significantly. It is clear that from both the post and the article that we are no where near being balanced in game and land management policies.

    Bigmnt

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    Default move

    There's always the option of moving to Sweden if that is the type of moose population you like. We will never see the numbers of moose in Alaska that Sweden has. It is impossible to have that many moose with the habitat and predators that we have in ALaska.

  5. #5
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    Default

    europeans also killed all predators in europe about 500 years ago
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

  6. #6

    Default Thats what I like boys, Optimism!

    If you don’t like it move! We can’t have more game to many predators!

    No offence here people, but you guys seem really convinced and have bought into the paradigm, hook line and sinker. You are examples of exactly what the article warned about.

    Let me reword this so that I leave no room for misinterpretation.... I respect David Johnson’s opinion and agree with many of his conclusions. However, I see no reason why Alaska can not do a better job in wildlife management. I see no reason why more moose, sheep and caribou can not be managed for and obtained.

    Could it be that the most damaging predator is Alaskans?

    Respectfully....Bigmnt

  7. #7
    Mark
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    Quote Originally Posted by ak_powder_monkey View Post
    europeans also killed all predators in europe about 500 years ago
    All?:

    ....The preliminary estimate of number of bears in Sweden is 1635-2840 bears in Sweden in 2004....
    At 173,860 sq. mi., that's roughly 1 bear per 61.2 sq. mi.

    With 35,000 brown bears in 570,833 sq. mi., Alaska has a density of 16 bears per sq. mi.

    I would venture to say that's a whale of a difference, especially considering the fact that Sweden doesn't have black bears, and Alaska has over 100,000 black bears.

    Maybe the Swedes have too few, and we have too many?

    Wolves?

    ....The Scandinavian wolf population grew by around 25% in the 1990s, and in 2005 Sweden’s wolf population was put at around 150 – more wolves than there have been in Scandinavia for almost 100 years....
    Alaska?:

    ... Alaskans are fortunate to have an estimated 7,700-11,200 wolves in our state. Wolves have never been threatened or endangered in Alaska, and inhabit all of their traditional range except within the largest cities....
    150 wolves in Sweden is obviously a depressed, threatened population, but at 11,000, I think there are plenty (perhaps even more than plenty) in Alaska.

    I think 140,000 moose is too few. I think 200,000 should be a minimum target.

  8. #8
    Member Flintlock's Avatar
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    Default

    Comparing our moose "harvest" to there's is meaningless. In some parts of our state, virtually all of the new born of the year are killed off by predation and hundreds more by cars and trains.



    Quote Originally Posted by Bigmnt View Post
    I was reading this in the SFW Sportmen's Voice summer 2007:

    “Recently, a prominent Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) stated in Anchorage Daily News, that Alaska’s moose population numbered about 140,000 animals, and that (Under ADFG’s Management) the number has remained “stable” for the last ten years. At face value, this might seem like a decent enough management, after all every consumptive user wants “stable” sources of game. Unfortunately, there is a bit more to the story.

    To put this matter into perspective, consider that Sweden ( a country at our same latitude, but only a quarter our size) has maintained a population of 500,000 moose during the same time period. Even more ironic is that in recent years, Sweden’s moose harvest (about 150,00 animals annually) often exceeds Alaska’s entire moose population! By contrast, Alaska’s moose harvest was only 6,500 last year. That’s right, 6,500! When considered on a moose harvest per acre basis, last year Sweden outperformed Alaska’s moose management by almost 100 fold! “

    To try and paraphrase the rest of the article:

    ADFG has moved away from managing wildlife resources and has concentrated the majority of its money and manpower into managing humans ( education, outreach, focus groups, poaching enforcement etc.) ADFG has conceded that managing wildlife is a losing cause. The management scheme of the ADFG is a benefit to no one under current management practices.

    Under this crisis, all Alaskans should be outraged and demand better from a government agency. If the people of Alaska do not get involved and take charge, they may not have wildlife to manage in the future.

    What are your thoughts.....Bigmnt

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    Default 6500 "reported" harvested...

    That doesn't account for the "unreported" harvest that occurs within the state of Alaska as well...

    & the 150,000 moose that we have is only a extrapolated figure & not the actual figure...

  10. #10

    Default

    Where did they come up with a moose population of 500,000 in Sweden? If Sweden is 180,000 square miles with 500,000 moose that means there are almost 3 moose/sq mile. I dont think that is possible.

  11. #11
    Mark
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    Quote Originally Posted by LastSplash View Post
    Where did they come up with a moose population of 500,000 in Sweden? If Sweden is 180,000 square miles with 500,000 moose that means there are almost 3 moose/sq mile. I dont think that is possible.
    It is possible:

    ....Dr. Valerius Geist, who emigrated to Canada from the Soviet Union wrote in his book Moose: Behavior, Ecology, Conservation (published in 1999 by Voyageur Press of Stillwater, MN):

    "Those who care most passionately about moose are - paradoxically - hunters, in particular people who live in wilderness and rural communities and those who depend on moose for food. In Sweden, no fall menu is without a mouthwatering moose dish. The Swedes fence their highways to reduce moose fatalities and design moose-proof cars. Sweden is less than half as large as the Canadian province of British Columbia, but the annual take of moose in Sweden - upward of 150,000 - is twice that of the total moose harvest in North America. That is how much Swedes cherish their moose.".....
    There are places in Alaska with moose densities that high. Look through the regs. Those areas with layers of restrictions (controlled use areas, checkpoints, lots of politics, etc) are such areas.

  12. #12

    Default Number restrictions.

    It's an interesting thread with a lot of individual ideas. So with that I'll add mine...... Whenever I talk with Fish & Game about increasing numbers of moose, I always get the same answer: "We manage the resource so that if we have a worst case winter the herd will not die off." The cow hunts, calf hunts etc. The number of moose in some areas could climb easily (Tanana flats as an example), but F&G doesn't feel the habitat will support the growth, "in a really bad winter".

    So I would have to ask, "How does that compare to Sweden?" Do they have more habitat or better weather? I don't know the answer, I'm only throwing out there a thought. I am curious though

  13. #13
    Mark
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    Quote Originally Posted by ltsryd View Post
    .....So I would have to ask, "How does that compare to Sweden?" Do they have more habitat or better weather?.....
    I think the most consistent and accurate answer is that Sweden has better consensus on management priorities. As our webmaster pointed out here, Sweden's forests are more intensively managed, which helps moose browse.

    It has also been pointed out that Alaska is literally awash in predators (both brown and black bears, in addition to having 75 times as many wolves as Sweden has), and it should be obvious to all that the result of any attempt to manage predators ends up being a political and ideological brouhaha.

  14. #14
    Member Flintlock's Avatar
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    Default Predation

    Predation counts for a lot more kills than that documented harvest take by a long-shot. I wouldn't be so quick to chalk it up to forestry management, etc. There are over 10 thousand wolves here. Eack pack has to make a kill on average of every three days. In Minnesota for example, each individual wolf kills between 15-20 deer per year just to give an idea of how much they kill. Wolves in general eat on average about 9 pounds of meat a day. If the amount of moose predation by wolves averages out to three moose taken per wolf, per year, then you have over 30,000 moose being mowed down by wolves alone. That's probably a minimum number. In areas of high wolf density, the moose are being dwindled.

    This doesn't even get to bears, starvation, winter exposure, trains, cars, etc.

    Sweden doesn't have that issue to this extent.

  15. #15

    Default Mark's math calculations

    Hey Mark, better check your math above. If Alaska is roughly 570,833 square miles and there are 35,000 brown bears in Alaska, I believe that is 1 bear per 16 square miles, not 16 bears per square mile.

    Jason

  16. #16

    Unhappy No More MOOSE...!!

    I have yet to read a convincing argument on why we should settle for less moose, sheep and caribou in Alaska. Historically, Alaska supported far more ungulate species in the past than it currently holds now. Natural predators were also elevated in numbers far exceeding current estimates. Without dispute, Alaska is in an accelerated warming pattern for almost twenty years and has had extremely mild winters. Wildlife management has emergency mandates to either close or open hunting due to field observation and weather conditions, herd strength or decline etc.. Alaska's Governor has vowed to change not only wildlife management practices but also willing to tackle land use issues to increase game numbers. And I am hearing all of the negative resistance from people on this board about taking steps to improve the sport that we all care so much about!

    History has shown no mercy for those unwilling to cease upon the moment!

    Quoting from the former general manager of Chrysler, Lee Iacocca: “You either lead, fallow, or get out of the way.”

    Mark, Great posts and supporting references.

    Gogoalie, You are correct, all wildlife numbers are for the most part estimates. However, the data collected and used in computer modeling for moose, sheep and caribou is in my estimation four times more accurate than the data used in modeling bear and wolves.

    Sweden? Deer old Sweden! Again I ask, Why not? Sweden is used as example of a place with similar characteristics to Alaska, that has put management practices into place to allow for sustainable and increasing moose populations and habitat. Should we as Hunters, Biologists, Environmentalist, condemn Sweden for using management schemes used here in the USA to improve its big game herds? Sweden, a quarter of Alaska’s size and multiple times Alaska’s human populations have found ways to value wildlife and sustain its economy. Can we not take a few pointers here and apply them to our problems? Again, Mark thank you for the resources.

    If, we are unwilling to see the forest for the trees, then maybe the fire will consume us......Bigmnt

  17. #17
    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    What did Sweden sacrifice, in terms of biodiversity, in order to achieve such an artificially high moose population?

    As big as Alaska is, our state's backcountry is not all moose habitat, but it is for the most part, true wilderness.
    Significantly increasing our moose population means one thing: Altering the habitat to produce more forage which begs some questions: Can this be done without adversely impacting other species?; What would this cost?; And, who's going to pay for it?

    Also, considering that we Alaskans generally like our wolves and bears, how would this Swedenization of Alaska's moose herds impact predators? We may disagree on how they should be managed but the overwhelming majority of us like the fact that they're out there. Given that, more moose would lead to more non-human moose eaters which appears to be self-defeating in my view. The Sweden model depends on humans being the sole predator of moose. Essentially, Swedish moose are "farmed."

    I, for one, prefer our current management practices.

  18. #18
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Erik in AK View Post
    What did Sweden sacrifice, in terms of biodiversity, in order to achieve such an artificially high moose population?

    As big as Alaska is, our state's backcountry is not all moose habitat, but it is for the most part, true wilderness.


    I, for one, prefer our current management practices.

    Well said, Erik. I don't want to live and hunt in a moose farm. I want to live and hunt in an area that is still wild.

  19. #19
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    Default Priorities

    The focus for wildlife management in Alaska is mostly consumed with managing people. Recently predator control has become more significant, but is still not a very big state wide. Very little is done in the habitat improvement area.
    Most ungulates do not do well in climax forest habitats. They need the young plants in early stage habitats or mixed-stage habitats for food. The primary mechanism for resetting the habitat stage is fire. Modern humans don't like fire near where they live, so the habitats tend to be stuck in the climax stage. More primitive cultures (by our standards) the world over saw the benefit of a good wildfire and even started them.
    Of course loss of habitat due to development is a problem nation wide and to a lesser extent in Alaska. Eagle River and the Mat-Su Valleys used to be favorite moose hunting areas. I have friend whose family homesteaded in Wasilla. He tells me of seeing 100+ moose on his way to school in the morning. Of course a smaller human population and intensive predator control by the feds had something to do with that as well.
    I would have no problem with intensively managing small sections of the state to "moose farm" as some would call it. A combination of habitat preservation/improvement and predator control can boost moose populations. Do this in areas accessible to the urban population centers, and fewer people would roam into the bush. That would help the remote moose populations as well. It does not have to be "all or nothing" as some would argue.
    People have been part of the wildlife equation for as long as there have been people. It will not stop now.

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    Default 'current management'

    I also fully support our state's 'current' managemenet strategies- they're a hell of a lot better then they were in the 90's under the knowles admin. I like the idea of aggresive predator control in many areas.

    I can also attest that in many areas, the moose population has been so severly lowered due to bears, wolves, trains and cars that typical food sources have grown out of control- thus having a potentially negative impact on improving numbers today.

    Clearly most Alaskans don't like the idea of a 'farmed' environment, but I sure do miss the days (aka 1980's) of flying from Wasilla to Talkeetna in October/Novemeber and counting 400-600 moose on top engaging in their typical recreational activities ...you make that trip now and you would be lucky to see 100...

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