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Thread: McNeil river bears

  1. #1
    Member colodan's Avatar
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    Default McNeil river bears

    I saw on the CBS World News last night 9/15/06, that the state of Alaska is going to open a brown/grizzly season in a unit that borders the McNeil viewing area. Living in Colorado I don't know anything about this hunt or the regulations that are in place, but the way that the repoter told the story made it sound as if the "trophy hunters" we're being allowed to walk right up to these tame bears and kill at will. No wander the American public that has no real experince with game managment hates hunting. The national media portrayed this hunt out be a slaughter at a zoo. They never called hunters sportsman, managers or even plain old hunters, they always refered to them as "trophy hunters". They interviewed a lodge owner that made his living taking people to the preserve to watch the bears and even shot a reporter on seen standing only feet from a feeding bear. (hello Treadwell) Not once did they talk with a hunter or biologist or preserve manager. I couldn't wait to get to my computer this morning to see what you residence thought of this piece of biased media reporting. I'm not sure if it didn't air up there or if everyone was out chasing sheep. Did anyone see this? Here is the link to the text version of the story http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/...n1898409.shtml

  2. #2
    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Default We don't need bear hunting in Kamishak

    Putting all that bias aside, I'm one hunter who opposes opening up the Kamishak Special Use Areas to bear hunting. And so does the org I co-chair, Alaska Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. A lot of hunters oppose opening the Kamishak to bear hunters. Interestingly, Mike Fleagle, our Board of Game chairman, said that opening the area to bear hunting was going to anger a lot of people for very little benefit.
    (Fleagle voted against it, and so did another Board member, but they were outvoted 5-2)

    So why do it? Why push this no-win scenario and make all hunters look bad to those in Alaska and elswhere? The latest survey showed that Alaskans overwhelmingly opposed this (by 78%, including the majority of hunters in this state, including Fleagle!).

    It's a no-win for hunters on the whole, all to allow the killing of perhaps 8 bears annually by special permits, and last I heard these permits could be bought (or applied for and then bought) by non-hunters who want to pony up the bucks to "save" the bears. (I don't like that precedent, and all that it implies...it's already happening under the radar, non-hunters applying for permits with the specific intention of never using them.) If we need more funding for McNeil, get it from wildlife viewers another way.

    We don't need bear hunting there; guides don't need it...that's one place I'm in favor of remaining a no-hunting zone for bears. The McNeil bear population is the lowest it's been in decades, according to the counts at the Falls. Right now isn't the time to be opening up the Kamishak Special Use Areas, and in 2007 the Board of Game will consider opening up the Refuge itself to bear hunting, which lies just across the river from the Sanctuary.

    I'm not the least bit surprised at how this will be perceived by non hunters here in Alaska and Outside. It will be a black mark against us, just one of many of late. I'll be sending in comments to the Board next year on this, strongly opposing it. I hope more hunters will do the same.
    Mark Richards

  3. #3
    Member EricL's Avatar
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    Default McNeil River

    I was lucky enough last year to get drawn to go visit McNeil River. It was an unbelievable experience. I am a person who loves hunting and everything that goes along with it. However, in the 3 days we spent observing the bears, NOT ONCE did I think to myself "boy I wish I could hunt here!". This place is all about observing, studying, and learning about bears in very close proximity. I would be very much against any type of hunting in this area. I'm not to sure what kind of hunter would hunt bears in this situation. I will be putting in for the drawing next year to try and take some family to see this great Alaskan location! Eric

  4. #4
    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Default some clarifying is in order

    Eric,

    Just wanted to clarify for you and others that bear hunting will NEVER be allowed within McNeil Game Sanctuary itself. They are going to allow bear hunting next year in the Kamishak Special Use Areas along the Douglas and Little Kamishak rivers, and are considering opening bear hunting (on a very limited basis) within the McNeil Refuge right across from the sanctuary. That's it in a nutshell.
    Mark

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    Member EricL's Avatar
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    Default little more clear

    Mark, sorry I should have been more clear on my post also. I knew they would never allow hunting in the refuge. However, one would assume that when the salmon aren't running these bears are roaming around that entire area. So I do feel any bear hunting in that area is a little crazy. As stated in an earlier post, the numbers of bears being viewed is at its lowest levels since the beginning. Thanks, Eric

  6. #6

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    Bushrat, you say the numbers of brown bears are down at the McNeil, how can that be? They don't get hunted and the only predators they have are themselves and maybe wolves. So whats got the numbers down or is this just fluff to stop the hunt?

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    Member martentrapper's Avatar
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    Default

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but haven't the salmon runs been lower the last fewyears in that area? Thus, less bears at the falls. However, interpolating that to mean the areas bear POPULATION is lower would be somewhat questionable.
    Therer are other sources of food, and if the competition at the falls gets too stiff, wouldn't the smaller bears look elsewhere?
    I've heard that unhunted bear pops often reach a point where boar killing of cubs becomes the controlling influence in overall numbers. Perhaps that is the case at McNeil. Perhaps taking out a few boars would actually help increase the overall pop. Perhaps the high number of bears at the falls was "abnormal" and this latest lower number more acturately reflects what the area can support.
    I can't help being a lazy, dumb, weekend warrior.......I have a JOB!
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  8. #8

    Default More or less

    Sorry Colodan, when it comes to the term trophy hunt, I personally think that it applies. The reason being , I personally don't know anyone that looks forward to eating brown bear meat; especially after they have been feeding on that much salmon. Sorry to stir things up.
    Later,
    JLG

  9. #9
    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    Default

    I'm with Bushrat on this.

    We live in a world where public opinion matters and we as hunters cannot afford the negative press associated with hunting these particular bears.

    Alaska has a generally healthy population of brown bears in lots of places open to hunting.

  10. #10

    Default

    Boundries are just that "BOUNDRIES". All this talk of adding additional protection to animals surrounding areas of parks, refuges and viewing areas is a bunch of bunk. Some of the bleading heart liberals fall for such tactics used by the anti's. All of us had better wake up or the available territory for hunting will be diminished to the point crowding will be inevitable. The same people that fall for this nonsense are the same people that have difficulty pulling the trigger or setting the hook when the time has come. They are just plain wishy-washy in their thinking, and their enitre lives are governed by what others might think of them.

  11. #11

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    I have to agree with MT, I don't think the bear population is down in that area, I think some may have moved on due to the influx of older bears. With no predators but themselves and all the food thats available, I don't see how the # of bears can decline. Maybe a bioligist can step in here and enlighten us.

  12. #12
    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Default Boundaries and Bears

    Quote Originally Posted by Akres
    Boundries are just that "BOUNDRIES". All this talk of adding additional protection to animals surrounding areas of parks, refuges and viewing areas is a bunch of bunk. Some of the bleading heart liberals fall for such tactics used by the anti's. All of us had better wake up or the available territory for hunting will be diminished to the point crowding will be inevitable. The same people that fall for this nonsense are the same people that have difficulty pulling the trigger or setting the hook when the time has come. They are just plain wishy-washy in their thinking, and their enitre lives are governed by what others might think of them.
    I agree that ever-wider buffer zones around National Parks and Preserves aren't necessary. But at this point and in this case with McNeil Sanctuary, and considering the history and popularity behind it, I support a continued closure on hunting in the Kamishak Special Use Area (s) and the McNeil Refuge. As to making a blanket statement about the majority of hunters in Alaska who actually oppose opening these areas near McNeil to trophy bear hunting...those who "fall for this nonsense," well I would hope that all hunters had a bit of difficulty in pulling the trigger and were concerned about the image of hunting among the non-hunting public who will one day decide our fate. It's one thing to be concerned about what others think of you as an individual (I'm not), and another to be concerned about what voters think of you as a group (I am). Wishy-washy isn't a term I'd used to describe how hunters feel about this particular issue. Most Alaskan hunters not only think this is a bad idea, but we also see the effect it is going to have on the perception of hunting and hunters. The cost/benefit on this is clearly not there as far as benefit to us as a group, unless you want to say that 3 brown bear hunters who will pay boucou bucks for this special permit in Kamishak and then hire a guide to hunt there next year at a cost of 20grand or so is a benefit to us all.

    There are a lot of brown bears hunted in this state, and during the last administration and with our current Board of Game, hunting restrictions on bears in general have lessened and bears in many areas are being "controlled." I find it ironic that some hunters would get their dander up about keeping an area closed to hunting near McNeil, when there are so many other areas to harvest brown or grizzly bears that have very liberal seasons. We're only talking about permits for 2 or 3 bears in the Kamishak (the one the BoG is going to open) and maybe another half dozen in McNeil Refuge if they open that next year.

    There is a lot of political shenanigans behind all this as well. As some may know, the Kamishak Special Use areas were on lands between Katmai and McNeil that were supposed to have been traded to the Park Service 20 years ago. The real impetus behind the Board considering and opening up these areas was political in nature, at the behest of the governor, in order to "motivate" the feds to get back with this land swap. The thinking was, if we "threatened" to open these areas (few thought they would actually do it) then the feds and state would get back on the ball and settle this land trade. Well that isn't happening, and all this has done is further politicize the Board of Game and anger millions (yes, millions) of people from Alaska to New York and beyond. There are lawsuits planned to stop this; it's going to get widespread media attention all over the world. Those same people who visit the McNeil webcam every day are going to hear that "Brownie" or "Sugar," habituated bears, are possibly going to be shot by "trophy hunters" "within rifle shot" of McNeil, where they have learned to not fear humans.

    Considering the brouhaha over this, and the worldwide attention...is this a smart thing for hunters to be pushing for? Some will say this is all about the principle that hunting and wildlife viewing are compatible endeavors. But the fact is, there is no place in the world like McNeil, and what it offers to everyone who just wants to know brown bears still exist. If we hunters were smart, we'd try to promote McNeil and the areas right adjacent to it where hunting (of bears) has been closed, and show the world that hunters DO care about such a thing and support it 100%, whilst at the same time hitting on the great conservation work hunters do and our place in the grand scheme of things in Alaska.

    Just an opinion.
    Mark Richards

  13. #13

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    Haha, if they want to view bears send them to the Russian and they can even fish with the bears!!

  14. #14
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    Default agree with MT akhunter45

    I am with MT and akhunter45.

    How can we say buffer zones are NOT needed around Denali but they ARE needed around McNeil? If they get one around McNeil then they will use that to get one larger around Denali and so forth. It will be a downward slope once they start to extend and add more buffer zones.

  15. #15

    Default

    I agree that "buffer zones" are just back doors to enlarging "special areas" like McNeil River and Denali Park. Any place on earth has borders and is right next to someplace else. Borders are borders - Get over it!
    Mike
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    There is a faster way off the mountain, might hurt a little though.

  16. #16
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    Default

    I'd say hunt it. We don't need a buffer zone around McNeil, same as we don't need one around Denali NP, Wrangell-St. Elias NP or others. Next we'll have people saying that State Parks should not be open for hunting because the sheep/moose/caribou are used to getting their picture taken that it wouldn't be fair.

    If McNeil bears roam outside the boundary, either expand the boundary or allow hunting.

    During ANILCA, the Feds locked up way too much of this away from hunters. I'd cordially resist them adding to it.

  17. #17
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    Default Leave it alone!

    I say leave the area alone. Do we (hunters) really need it? I personally do not believe so. The state has quite a few areas managed for trophy Brownies and opening an area that is in the "public eye" only hurts our sport. It is an election year and controversy in the media is free advertisment. If F&G needs the money they should auction off more of the other draw hunts that people would want. Just my two pennies.

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