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Thread: Why we can't manage like Scandanavia

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    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Default Why we can't manage like Scandanavia

    Multiple Factors Make Managing Moose in Alaska
    More Difficult Than Scandinavia


    By Tim Mowry

    In Sweden, a country that is approximately one-fifth the size of Alaska, hunters kill about 80,000 moose per year, give or take a few thousand.

    In Norway, which is slightly smaller than Sweden, the average annual moose harvest is 35,000.

    In Alaska, hunters are lucky if they kill 7,000 moose per year.

    So why don’t we manage moose in Alaska like they do in Sweden?

    It’s a question that state wildlife biologist Don Young at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Fairbanks is sick and tired of hearing.

    “It comes up a lot at advisory committee meetings and in public forums,” said Young, who oversees moose management in Game Management Unit 20A south of Fairbanks. “It’s one of the primary mantras for Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife.”

    It’s also totally unrealistic, the Alaska biologist said.

    “Comparing (Alaska and Sweden) is just bogus,” Young said. “The uninformed hunter who hears this without getting all the facts is duped into believing it. I feel strongly about getting it out on the table and debunking it, because it’s not true.”

    Perhaps the best person to debunk that myth is Scott Brainerd, a research coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Conservation with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Fairbanks.

    Brainerd, 51, spent 15 years working as national wildlife expert for the Norwegian Association of Hunters based in Oslo and another five years working for the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research before returning to Alaska to take a job with the Department of Fish and Game last summer.

    “It’s a lot harder to manage moose in Alaska than in Scandinavia because there are a lot of factors we have here that you don’t have over there,” Brainerd said.

    Those factors include everything from a milder climate to unlimited hunter access to better habitat to fewer predators to uniform hunting pressure.

    “They almost farm the moose,” Brainerd said of Scandinavian wildlife managers.

    Different climates

    Even though Alaska and Scandinavia are located at similar latitudes, they have very different climates because the Gulf Stream waters off the west coast of Norway push warm air into Norway, Finland and Sweden.

    Norway is the northern-most country in the world to have open waters. Temperatures of 20 degrees below zero in the winter are rare in bothNorway and Sweden, even in the far north.

    “You can grow apples above the Arctic Circle in Norway,” Brainerd noted. “There is no permafrost in Norway.”

    Better habitat

    The warmer climate and richer soil in Scandinavia results in better forage for moose and makes it easier for them to survive in the winter, Brainerd said.

    The timber industry is huge in Scandinavia and timber companies grow trees, i.e. scotch pine, that provide a never-ending supply of browse for moose. Moose strip the bark off scotch pine trees, which, surprising as it might seem to Alaskans, is “fairly nutritious,” Brainerd said.

    Clear cutting in the 1950s and ’60s in Scandinavia created a tremendous amount of moose habitat that resulted in an explosion in the moose population, particularly in Sweden, that persists today.

    “I couldn’t believe it when I first got over there in 1988,” Brainerd said. “They were everywhere, like white-tailed deer in Pennsylvania.”

    In Alaska, most of the new browse for moose is the result of wildfires, which are unpredictable and uncontrolled, and winter mortality is much higher, especially for young moose.

    Different moose

    Scandinavian moose are “considerably” smaller than Alaska moose, Brainerd said. Trophy, or gold medal as they are called in Sweden, moose are extremely rare because few moose live long enough to reach trophy status.

    “Very few moose make it past 2 or 3 years of age,” he said.

    When he worked in Oslo, Brainerd had the antlers from a 45-inch bull moose he shot in Southeast Alaska hanging in his office. While a 45-inch antler spread is respectable, it’s by no means considered a trophy moose in Alaska, where many areas require moose to have a 50-inch antler spread to be legal.


    “People would come in and their jaws would drop when they’d see that thing,” Brainerd said. “I’d tell them, ‘That’s a little Alaska moose’ and they’d always scoff at me.”

    Moose in Scandinavia, even big ones, don’t have brow tines like they do in Alaska. Most Scandinavian moose have “points” protruding from one palm, like a hand with fingers, Brainerd said.

    “You rarely see a moose with more than three points on a side,” he said.

    Few predators

    Lack of predators also plays a role in the surplus of moose in Scandinavia compared to Alaska.

    Bears and wolves were extinct in Norway for decades and are just now beginning to reappear. In Sweden, where predators are rebounding quicker than in Norway, there are still only about 200 wolves and 2,500 brown bears, Brainerd said.

    In Alaska, there are an estimated 7,000 to 10,000 wolves and nobody knows how many bears, which have been proven to be proficient killers of newborn moose. The rough estimate for grizzly bears in Alaska is 30,000 and the number of black bears is much higher.

    “People think if you wipe out all the predators you’re going to have a moose behind every tree but that’s not the way it works,” Brainerd said. “Even if you eliminated all predators, you might be able to stack up moose for a while but then you have the challenge of keeping the population within the bounds of its food supply.

    “Without even hunting pressure you won’t be able to keep that population within the bounds of its food supply and it will collapse,” he said. “You’d have to have roads everywhere.”

    More roads

    Roads are another thing Scandinavia has that Alaska doesn’t.

    There are almost 265,000 miles of roads in Sweden and 57,000 miles of roads in Norway compared to just a little more than 4,100 miles of roads in Alaska.

    “The road network is such that there’s almost no refuge for moose from hunting,” Brainerd said. “Moose hunting occurs on basically every square inch of Scandinavia.”

    Unlike Alaska, where only 1 percent of land is privately owned if you don’t count Native corporations — which restrict hunting on their lands — nearly all of the land in Sweden and Norway is privately owned and hunting is allowed, in part to cut down on vehicle and train collisions with moose and, in the case of timber companies, to reduce predation on trees by moose. Landowners work with biologists to determine harvest quotas for their lands and most of the time hunters reach it or come close to it.

    “They manage their moose through hunting,” Brainerd said.

    Different hunting

    Moose hunting in Scandinavia is very different than Alaska.

    Hunting is done in teams or groups, and dogs are used to track down and find moose, Brainerd said. Hunters are restricted to land on which they have hunting rights and are allowed only to hunt on that land. Hunters are allowed to hunt on roads and in national parks, he said.

    “It’s so much easier to hunt in Scandinavia,” Brainerd said. “It’s more like a military operation. You’ve got an area allotted to you, and you hunt in that area.

    “Teams are organized as such that leaders report the harvest every day to a management center,” he said. “They report how many moose they shoot every day and how many moose they see every day. They track the harvest on a daily basis and shut off the season when they’ve shot the quota for that area.”

    It’s not uncommon for teams of hunters to shoot multiple moose on the same day, he said.

    “You can shoot as many moose as you need to shoot to reach the quota,” Brainerd said. “I’ve shot three moose in a week over there. It’s no big deal. I met guys in their 70s who have shot 150 moose during their life.”

    While most moose hunting is done on foot — ATVs are not popular inScandinavia — hunters use specially-made “moose tracks” to haul moose out of the woods and most processing is done at home.

    “You have a motorized rig pull it out of the woods, you throw it on a flatbed truck and take it back to the processing center where you have electric meat saws,” Brainerd said. “We could process a whole moose in 20 minutes.”


    Different harvest

    A large portion of the moose harvested in Scandinavia, particularly Sweden, are calves, yearlings and cows, a management technique that is frowned upon by many Alaskahunters who oppose shooting calves and cows but one that results in a larger moose population given the right circumstances like those in Scandinavia.

    “About 60 percent of the moose they shoot are calves and yearlings,” Brainerd said. “They shoot about 25 to 30 percent of the moose population every year.”

    Ironically, while some Alaska hunters want what Scandinavian hunters have, i.e. more moose, many Scandinavian hunters want what Alaska hunters have, i.e. big moose with big antlers.

    “Scandinavian hunters all dream of coming to Alaska to shoot a big moose and Alaska hunters dream about the Scandinavian harvest numbers,” Brainerd said.

    Another odd twist is that for all the differences between Alaska and Scandinavia when it comes to moose management and hunting, there is one statistical similarity that Alaskan hunters jealous of those in Swedenand Norway should keep in mind — Alaskans actually kill more moose per capita than hunters do in Sweden or Norway.

    Alaska, population 670,000, has a moose harvest per capita of 0.010 while in Sweden, population 9.2 million, it is 0.009. In Norway, population 4.8 million, the moose harvest per capita is 0.007.

    “When it comes right down to it they’re shooting proportionately about the same number of moose we are,” Brainerd said. “There are a lot more people over there.”

    Alaska Fish & Wildlife News - Tim Mowry is an outdoor writer and journalist in Fairbanks, Alaska. This article was first published Sept. 3, 2009, in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner and is reprinted with permission.

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    Oh gee now I am happy.. They proportionatly shooting the same number we are... Give me a break. When you go out here and spend time in the field and see so much more wolf and bear sign and see most cows that are dry. Yep I say I am happy that AFG are doing there job manageing hunters than the resourse. And manageing the resoure is also manageing the habitat. And thats whay there is a moose behind ever beatle killed tree. After the Miller Reach Fire the moose population jumped quite a bit but the preditors got out of control and took care of the game for us. So lets keep on shortning the season and manage the hunters. And it makes a statement that Alaska needs a lot and I mean alot more roads and access. I for one get really tired of the AFG bunny huggers putting up more excusses why they can not do something then doing something.

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    Maybe if they said OK we will try the moose thing but to go with it we will also use thier hunting license thing where you have to prove shooting ability on running game targets. We could have managed the American Bison all we wanted but without manageing the hunter the results would have been the same.Plain and simple Alaska game can not withstand the hunter numbers we now have.Alaska is fragil and will probably only sustain a 100,000 folks with 25% takeing game to feed the rest

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    Quote Originally Posted by bushrat View Post
    Multiple Factors Make Managing Moose in Alaska
    More Difficult Than Scandinavia


    By Tim Mowry




    and nobody knows how many bears, which have been proven to be proficient killers of newborn moose. .
    Could this quote be taken to mean that bears, according to the quoted expert, ARE calf killers?
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    Wink socialist moose management?

    garyb... since i don't think you read the article, here is the part you might be interested in...

    "
    Scandinavian moose are “considerably” smaller than Alaska moose, Brainerd said. Trophy, or gold medal as they are called in Sweden, moose are extremely rare because few moose live long enough to reach trophy status.

    “Very few moose make it past 2 or 3 years of age,” he said.

    When he worked in Oslo, Brainerd had the antlers from a 45-inch bull moose he shot in Southeast Alaska hanging in his office. While a 45-inch antler spread is respectable, it’s by no means considered a trophy moose in Alaska, where many areas require moose to have a 50-inch antler spread to be legal.



    “People would come in and their jaws would drop when they’d see that thing,” Brainerd said. “I’d tell them, ‘That’s a little Alaska moose’ and they’d always scoff at me.”

    Moose in Scandinavia, even big ones, don’t have brow tines like they do in Alaska. Most Scandinavian moose have “points” protruding from one palm, like a hand with fingers, Brainerd said.

    “You rarely see a moose with more than three points on a side,” he said.


    so if you want to shoot dinkers and calves, sweden is the place to be.
    i guess you would have to say it is socialist moose management ... give up quality for quantity, nobody gets a trophy, but everyone gets a moose.

    MT, nobody has ever argued that bears don't kill calves. you need a new song.
    (btw, since bears kill most calves in the first 4 weeks after birth, they have about the same season as us... just no antler restrictions ... oh, and then they sleep for a few months too, so it's not like bears are killing calves 24/7 12 months a year... they go off shift and the wolves punch in. :
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    Wink

    The only reason we can't, is because too many people go around saying "we can't". All they do is go around spouting off and not doing anything to improve the habitat. They like to say they are, but they never put up the money or effort to do it. Several organizations as GUILTY of this as well. They are the proverbial "Brick Wall".
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    I thought the same thing as Akres when I first read that article last week. They never give us a reason why Alaska can't do what Scandinavia does. They simply point out all the stuff they do over there, and then go on to say, "we can't do that in Alaska". But they haven't provided any evidence as to WHY they can't do it here. The whole article makes it sound like our game management folks are just lazy and don't want to try something different.

    Kinda like a few weeks ago when the state said there is no way to capture a Swan to remove an arrow. Then a couple days later, a private vet and a couple kayakers show up, capture the swan and remove the arrow without hardly blinking an eye. That shows how much the state understands about wildlife.
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    Talking okay, first step...

    thousands of miles of roads covering every inch of the hunt area. i don't think that is a F&G issue... get a hold of DOT. probably have to raise taxes to make the roads for the socialist moose hunt, or the state will have to provide ATVs for everybody.. but then the habitat will get screwed up and it won't support all the stunted moose....
    climate change will take care of the habitat improvement, as it gets warmer the moose will get smaller... oh yeah... you have to kill 1/3 of the moose every year, (cows and calves too) or the population will destroy all habitat and then no more moose.....
    and even the best hunters will have to be content with dinks, cause there won't be any trophies.

    why would we want to emulate swedish moose management (control, really) here anyway?

    i would rather have their health care plan if we need to adopt a socialist bent...

    you folks who think (?) that we should do swedish moose hunting are posting from LA-LA land.
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    I guess I get a different impression from reading the article and other reading I've done re. moose hunting in Scandinavia. That is that Scandinavia is more like the East Coast states with moose taking the place of deer.


    Hunters in New York take about 200,000 deer a year (Source, Fur-Fish-Game magazine)


    If you want Alaska to be like those places just build enough roads so that no place is more than 10 miles from one, kill all or most of the predators and add a lot more people.


    Of course, it wouldn't be Alaska then, would it?

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    A realistic realization of just how hard hunting can be when game is plentiful might solve a lot of these issues. Certainly some of the areas I'm aware of have what appear to be good moose populations - but a horse or four wheeler aren't going to be ridden right up to them. But, I strongly suspect the number of people willing to spend a couple of days packing moose meat back to the machine or pack string may be pretty small.
    Joe (Ak)

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    Joe, that touches on something I was thinking. Lets say for the sake of discussion we can "grow more moose". Where will these moose be? Will we grow them all in places we already access? Do we need to build more trail? More roads? Most folks will not pack a moose more than a mile or so when it comes right down to it...heck alot of what I see is guys riding wheelers and boats around trying to get moose to come to them... backcountry road hunters.



    Maybe we should just grow them in smaller sub-sub units, put in feed plots and a trail network to these small areas. Haul in some winter feed for them. If we're worried about them spreading out too much after we've spent good money feeding them, we can put up some wire. Maybe sell some opportunities.. and have an orphaned calf pen petting zoo so we can lure in tourists like the reindeer farm.


    Hey! I think I have an idea...lets sell some hunts and film them for outdoor television.



    Alot of the guys who advocate for this stuff would rail against "Californification" of alaska, yet their ideas sound alot like "Texification" to me...



    Maybe I'm off base, and I'm sure I'll hear about it if I am...

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    Lets build Palin's wild-eyed, Hickel-style road to Nome; fight over which half (north or south) is motorized/non-motorized, and continue to aggressively manage predators and get after it.

    Should post some picts of the Scandinavian moose-some sorry looking creatures.

    Tim

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    I would never say do and be like Scandanvia. But for many years there does seem always that there is that never ending answer that we just can not do it. I still think and this is just my own little perception , It does seem that AFG would rather manage hunters than deal will the hard issues concerning game and GAME MANAGEMENT. This is all aspects of that from real habitat management, perditor control, and so forth and not be concerned with the I want to see bears and wolf crowds. To me it seems that a lot of folks would just let it go by the preditors to manage the game heard. All of those folks want to to is a back door action to get rid of hunting all together.

    As for infastucture I am all for it and not just for getting out and hunting. Not talking about freeways and such. This would also bring jobs and opertunities to the area off the road system and get some of those who would rather live in a nanny state off there you know what and maybe decide to work for a living. I say invest in a real road system and so what if I can drive to lets say Ruby thats ok. But may stop along the and set up moose camp off of there. Or drive to Dillingham, Nome and other places.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JOAT View Post
    But they haven't provided any evidence as to WHY they can't do it here.
    Because we can't afford the hundreds of billions of dollars that it would cost to build tens of thousands of miles of new road.

    Because most of us want an in-tact ecosystem that still supports populations of bears and wolves. (I'm fully in support of some predator control where prudent, but I don't want them nearly wiped out as they are in Scandinavian countries.)

    Because we don't have a population of millions of people.

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    Default Ira Gabrielson quote AK Constitutional Convention 1954

    From the AK Constitutional Convention minutes:


    Mr. President, this morning we have with us Dr. Ira N. Gabrielson who as you all know is one of the foremost authorities in the United States on wildlife and resources. Dr. Gabrielson for eleven years was Director of the Fish and Wildlife and the Biological Survey for the United States. He is presently President of the Wildlife Management Institute.


    [excerpt of Dr. Gabrielson's presentation]


    "Wildlife management, if you could deal only with the wild populations and their problems, would be relatively simple, but in my opinion most wildlife management consists of five per cent dealing with wildlife things and 95 per cent dealing with wild people, and most of the problems and most of the headaches in wildlife administration come from human attitudes and human problems not from the wildlife problems."



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    Default Re: my first post on this thread

    P.S. I personally have zero desire for Alaska to adopt a Scandinavian style moose management system. It's a socialist system that goes completely against what Alaska (and America) is all about. My comments on the article are about how they state we "can't" do it in Alaska, but then don't provide any info as to why it wouldn't work. Instead they focus on how it works over there.
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    I don't really think there is too much that should be changed as far as regs go, I would like to see less oppurtunity for non residents, but I don't think that has an overall major impact on anything. I think that people just want the hunting to come easy and I don't mind that it doesn't always. People still take plenty of moose from the roads, in their yards, etc, I think the people regulations change are the one's that aren't getting that lucky moose and aren't willing to spend the time and money to go get a moose. I am not opposed to the idea of some more road in Alaska, but to build roads to every corner of the state for the sake of the weekend warrior road moose hunter is bogus and not even econmically feasible. If the people could afford the taxes to have these roads built, they would have no problem spending the money to get to a remote spot via plane, boat, or whatever to get a trophy moose every year

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    Having hunted in several Eurpean countries while stationed over there, you do not want to adopt the European method of hunting and game management. Yes there are good things but a whole lot that could not be used here in the US, especially Alaska.

  19. #19

    Angry

    The real problem is that too many want to "preserve" a poor habitat that Alaska has been allowed to become, as opposed to improving the habitat. If you look closely at some of the individual and org's comments and writings, it is easy to discern that they want to lock up access and let nature take it's course. They oppose any improvement in habitat. Sad deal for sure.
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    It sounds like a lot of folks on here would rather go out to a plot of land, shoot, load up the meat trailer, and "bring home the bacon".

    Why don't we designate an area, fence it off, and actively farm moose like cattle? Then, people won't complain about wildlife being in the wild (bear and wolves) and can harvest their moose without whining about having to actually go hunt.

    Is that enough Texification for you guys?



    Populations vary around a number of factors. Killing the wolves and bear will not solve the other problems. The wolves and bear also come back unless harvested at massive levels.

    If you want to drive out to Palmer and shoot a moose, get the state to allow farming moose. Then, you pay your (insert fee here), park, shoot, and process.

    It would be a lot cheaper than actually going outside and finding your moose. Plus, you could leave on a Sunday morning and still make it home for the afternoon game


    Is that lazy enough for you?
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