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Thread: Realistic Bear population on the Kenai

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    Default Realistic Bear population on the Kenai

    I was pondering the 'sheep on the kenai thread', specifically the low numbers of moose/sheep, etc due to increased population of predators. I've personally encountered several bears on the kenai in the last year or so. I talked with some different folks and this is what I was told:

    Fish and game does an annual estimate on the population of brownies on the peninsula ... they say somewhere around 300 bear on the peninsula.

    KNWR wanted to perform their own survey but Fish and Game wouldn't assist or participate. So, Chugach national forest participated. The results of that study haven't been released. But ... they said Fish & Game will be blown away by the number. And in addition, they say Fish & Game will also be blown away by the numbers of black bear.

    If they come back and say there's really 3000 brownies on the peninsula, then Fish & Game should seriously consider revising their management plan (especially for those who enjoy the moose and sheep hunting).

    Since a huge area of the peninsula is KNWR, I can't help but support the 'probable' findings of KNWR and Chugach.

    For those that live down here, what do you think the population of brownies is? 300, 500, 1000 ... give a specific number.

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    Did I mention I seen a black bear on my way home from work on Friday. It wasn't really warm on Friday either. Seems waaay early to me!

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    I do know somebody who had a bait station around the middle of the Kenai and counted 27 different Griz/Brownies using his trail cam. This was 3 years ago. If there are only 300 Brownies on the Kenai P, then close to 10% of them visited this guy's bait!
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    If adf&g says 300 I'll bet there is over a thousand. I had 6 different brown bears and 5 blacks within rifle range on a 6 days trip into the KNWR.
    Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming-----WOW-----what a ride!
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    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...ecast-for-2011


    HOPE, AK. area BEAR Forecast for 2011
    First: I predict more bears will exit the dens earlier than normal. We have very little snow this winter, with zero" to 5" currently at sea level. Normal would be 24" to 60" at sea level in early March.
    Yes, winter is not fully over, but green vegetation will arrive early, first along the beach & then along the Hwy.

    Second: There was last year clearly reduced sightings of Black Bears in the area, most likely do to increased hunting pressure, however I can NOT dismiss that predation by the Brown Bears could have contributed to this, I don't know this to be a fact, just a maybe.

    This is very unscientific, but just based on the paw print I encountered last year while doing my three to five mile hikes, I would guess that now the Brown Bears are 55% of the bear population. And as an aerial survey might show more Black Bears spotted, I would submit that the Brown Bears are harder to see, and more nocturnal. (Slightly)

    This conclusion is supported by bear baiter's cameras. And although I don't bait bears I do enjoy feed-back from several who do in this area.

    Just a side note: The monster Brown Bear that was here all summer 2008 was not seen nor was a track seen in 2009 or 2010. He was or is a true monarch.

    Good hunting, Men & Ladies.

    Please Note: I am NOT a biologist, nor do I portray a biologist on TV.

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    That 300 estimate was determined back in the mid-90s. If you talk to the area biologist he will tell you they don't have a current population range because it's difficult to do a census on the peninsula. Basically how they came up with the mid-90s number is they took an estimated suitable habitat range on the KP and used a population density from unit 13 and came up with the 300 number. Since the mid 90s they have drastically reduced hunting because they were worried the growing numbers of DLP's would result in more than 6 or 7 percent of brown bears being harvested, which 6 or 7 percent has been shown to produce a sustainable population of brown bears.

    Problem is the KP habitat is way different than unit 13 and in my opinion has better brown bear habitat than unit 13. Think about it lots of grasses, sedges, forbs, cranberries, plenty of salmon streams, moose, caribou, sheep, black bear, and most years a plentiful berry crop. I don't see any reason why brown bears wouldn't do well with the habitat the KP has to offer. Ever since hunting has been reduced their populations have increased a lot. I was just flat out amazed what i saw hunting the KP this year, there were trails that used to have lots of moose tracks that looked like brown bear highways. About one calf for every 10 cows, which is just pitiful. I know around homes the calf ratio might be better, but once you get a few miles away from homes it gets bad. Then one night saw 6 brown bear around one moose gut pile. It's almost borderline dangerous to hunt some areas of the KP with the new density of brown bears. With this increase it is very likely that mid-90's estimate was much lower than it should have been and the big population increase is from the fact we weren't then and still aren't harvesting no where near 6 or 7 percent of the population.

    The problem I see with the current situation is the only bears getting shot are the ones around homes (DLP bears). Basically no bears are getting shot in the more remote areas and in those areas the brown bears are just stacking up on top of one another. When's the last time a brown bear has been harvested up on the Tustumena Ridge? I bet it's been since mid-90s. If it wasn't for a few DLP bears being harvested it's probably been just as long since a brown bear has been harvested in the caribou hills/homer bench area.

    I really hope the study the feds did turns up a lot of brown bears. I have my doubts because supposedly they have to count each bear twice, which worries me. How many bears after getting fooled the first time will go back the second time? Plus some will smell the human scent around the station and decide not to leave a sample. Then they didn't even put out any barb wire traps on the Tustumena Ridge, which I think most people on the KP would agree holds the highest density of brownies.

    I can say with pretty good certainty there are 800 to 1,200 brown bear on the KP and there may even be more than that. If there wasn't that many then I would see more calves than I did this year. If there was only 300, calves would be fairly common on the KP. If everyone would quit putting in for DB307 and let me and a couple of my friends get those three permits I guarantee we could put the hurting on some Tustumena Ridge bears. Problem is I can't ever get a permit and they only give out 3 for what would be the best brown bear area on the KP.

    It does look like they will increase the black bear limit to 3 on the KP, now only if we can work on them to expand brown bear hunting I personally would love it if they brought back the registration hunt and actually allowed more than 4 or 5 bears to be harvested by hunters. With the habitat on the KP and probable low hunter success rates, even a general hunt with one bear every 4 years I doubt would cause unhealthy numbers of bears to be harvested.

  7. #7

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    The Biologists consider the Kenai Brown Bears an "Island" Population. And Manage them as such. Only problem is they have NO accurate way to count them. So they've been "over protected" for many years. I quit baiting down there when I had 9 different Brownies visit my stand in one night. Got the photos..... It's time for a General Season on the KP. Way too many Brownies!

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    Was the KNWR and Chugach national forest a part of the group that ran bait stations on the Peninsula counting brown bears last year with calves blood? I have a few friends that said they knew people involved with the project but no-one can get any updated information after the bait sites were shut down. I don't live in the KP, but have been told by many who hunt and bait every year down there that estimates are in the 1200-1500 range for brown's. I don't know if that's true, but like everyone else, I'm interested in seeing the updated numbers.
    "He should have been packing a more powerful gun...you have to be a very good shot or very lucky to stop a brown bear with a .357 Magnum." - Rick Sinnott, Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist after a double attack by a grizzly.

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    I've got over 900 photos of brown bears at my bait site over a 3 year period. Believe me my senses are on full alert when going into and out of my site, and my rifle is always at the ready.

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    nobody seems to want to give credit to the way our KP bio's have been managing bears... everyone still seems to think they are "protected" in some way, far from it.
    in the last 5 yrs we have gone from 0 permits to nearly 40 this year, and as long as the bear population remains healthy we are likely to see steady increases in allowable harvest.
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    Quote Originally Posted by homerdave View Post
    and as long as the bear population remains healthy we are likely to see steady increases in allowable harvest.

    And a steady increase in Reported and "UN-REPORTED" DLP killings.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AGL4now View Post
    And a steady increase in Reported and "UN-REPORTED" DLP killings.
    the permits are concentrated (but not limited to) areas of substantial human-bear interaction. hunters can choose to be made aware of problem bears in their permit area, and target them before they become a DLP.
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    300 bears on the Kenai pen. Right.
    "Ya can't stop a bad guy with a middle finger and a bag of quarters!!!!"- Ted Nugent.

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    Quote Originally Posted by homerdave View Post
    the permits are concentrated (but not limited to) areas of substantial human-bear interaction. hunters can choose to be made aware of problem bears in their permit area, and target them before they become a DLP.
    Clearly you ain't trying to run a poultry farm.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pike_palace View Post
    300 bears on the Kenai pen. Right.
    these are not number F&G gives any credence to any longer, so lets quit tossing them around, okay?
    those number were arrived at like 20 years ago when the area bio was told to come up with numbers but given no money to do any study (sound familiar?) he based his conclusions on data taken from the susitna dam project at the time, because it was the most current study available.
    since then it has been accepted that the brownies on the kenai are more analogous in population and density to coastal brown bear populations then the quasi-inland population on the susitna.
    nobody (except a few folks who can't let go of the number 300) actually thinks that the old (OLD... got that!?) study was or is accurate.
    so F&G is doing all that they can to quietly (apparently so quietly most hunters haven't noticed) up the harvest of brown bears through additional drawing permits every year.
    so put in... and shhhh!
    Alaska Board of Game 2015 tour... "Kicking the can down the road"
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    Quote Originally Posted by homerdave View Post
    .
    so F&G is doing all that they can to quietly (apparently so quietly most hunters haven't noticed) up the harvest of brown bears through additional drawing permits every year.
    so put in... and shhhh!
    No. There is no need for a draw. I seriously doubt that a general season is going to create this sudden craze to hunt Brown bear on the Kenai peninsula. Sure, there will be increased harvest (OBVIOUSLY) but I don't think that it is going to damage the numbers beyond repair.

    40 permits now you say? And how many of those 40 hunted bears? And how many of those who hunted were successful?

    Laughable that a general season has not been implemented. Wouldn't be surprised if the Commericial Services Board has a big hand in it.
    "Ya can't stop a bad guy with a middle finger and a bag of quarters!!!!"- Ted Nugent.

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    I think a general season would boost hunter interest a great deal, I for one would take advantage of it. I can think of a few areas that would yield a bear with little effort and I am sure many people know of those areas as well. At the same time, based purely on my observation of the critters when out and about the KP, there is a sustainable population that would support a few general seasons. Maybe alternating general and drawing seasons is something to consider these days ?

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    Member jkb's Avatar
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    I would love a general season brown bear hunt on the kp, even a one every 4 years.
    Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming-----WOW-----what a ride!
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    Homerdave don't give the local biologists too much credit. Sure they've increased the permits to 40 but they could give out 100. Yeah your right they are managing brown bears well, so well that the moose population is at its worst status than it has been in the last century. I'm sorry but the moose calf ratio is just pitiful and when you consider many research projects have shown about 85 percent of calf deaths are due to predation it doesn't take a mathematician to figure out the problem.

    Then they fix it so as few bears get shot as possible. Only giving out 3 permits for DB307, I'm sorry is a joke. I'd rather not have them give any out for that area. The only reason why DLP's haven't stayed at the 40 level like they were a couple years ago is like AGL4now hinted at is more people aren't reporting them. The brown bear population has reached such a level that they are literally overrunning the peninsula and it is ruining all the moose, caribou, and sheep hunting on the KP.

    I'm one to give some of the credit of the low bull:cow ratio in 15C to hunters illegally taking moose, but humans are not to blame for the low calf:cow ratio and with the ratio as low as it is there is no way the moose population will be stable or increasing. I know people that have flown the southern Peninsula for many years and they've never seen the moose population as low as it is now. I don't even want to hunt the KP for moose next year because it's gotten sad. Over the course of 12 hard hunting days hunting for at least 6 hours a day, if it wasn't for the last day of season where I saw 2 bulls, I would have only seen 3 bulls over the course of those 12 days. Then hardly any calves almost to the point where you would see a cow with a calf and be shocked.

    We might not be that far away from the KNWR being shut down to moose hunting, because if the natives/subsistence hunters feel like their opportunity is greatly decreasing to harvest a moose, will they have priority on federal lands and could take it to court and get the general season shut down. Sorry I disagree with you, I'm just not seeing any reason to not allow at least 20 brown bears to be hunter harvested each year. Add in the DLP's to that and there would be about 50 brown bear a year being shot, which is a number that is most likely substainable for the KP. In the mid-90s even when there was a general season I don't think more than 10 brown bears ever got shot. The KP is tough for hunting brown bear, sure the first couple years a lot would get shot because they're everywhere, but after that I think harvests would remain relatively low and not threaten their populations.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jkb View Post
    I would love a general season brown bear hunt on the kp, even a one every 4 years.
    Even if it was one every 8 years. At least plenty of opportunity to thin down the population and bring back the moose.

    The area behind my house is a natural corridor for both brown and black bears throughout the summer. They hang pretty close to the river and they are drawn to my house ... not because of trash but because of 'fish' and 'fish remains' on the bank of the Kenai less than a mile away. And there's lots of bears ... plenty to do a general season in my opinion (or even a registration type hunt).

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