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  • #16
    Here's a practical question:

    Have you tried the grinders you contemplate? We dinked around with several trying to grind carcasses for our garden, and they are no picnic to use. You either need a really big one to take the whole carcasses including heads, or you have to do some serious hacking on the carcasses before you can feed them in. In either case, there's a lot of cranking per fish- more than I think most folks will bother with. They're going to keep on doing what they are currently doing with the carcasses, in spite of your best efforts.

    You will also find that the ground fish isn't going far downstream unless you pipe it well out into the current. Instead it will collect in the shallows in the immediate vicinity, potentially creating a bigger mess than you already have. Instead of moving in, grabbing a carcass and backing out, the bears are going to hang around to snarf the smaller bits, all the while moving closer and closer to the source in order to get better results for their efforts. If the bears camp out on your grinders, then what do you do?

    The point is to get the waste far away from people, and I agree. But I doubt you are going to accomplish that when the practical details of grinders come home to roost.
    "Lay in the weeds and wait, and when you get your chance to say something, say something good."
    Merle Haggard

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    • #17
      More info on grinders and plans for the Russian River

      Originally posted by BrownBear
      ...Have you tried the grinders you contemplate? We dinked around with several trying to grind carcasses for our garden, and they are no picnic to use. You either need a really big one to take the whole carcasses including heads, or you have to do some serious hacking on the carcasses before you can feed them in....
      GRINDERS AND PLANS

      As I began to look into this issue in more detail, I discovered that there have been a whole bunch of folks working on exactly this same issue. It's a perfect example of several people thinking along the same lines at the same time. Turns out that there have been some pretty high level discussions happening within a group called the "Kenai Brown Bear Committee", comprised of members of ADFG, the US Forest Service, the refuge folks, the Kenai Sportfishing Association and others. They've been discussing the issue of grinders for at least a couple of years. Some of the discussion has become bogged down in bureaucratic red tape. As far as the type of grinders they're looking at, they have a LOT of ideas, including a company down on the Kenai Peninsula that has offered to build hand-grinders for this project. So the short answer is that if this goes forward, they will of course be using grinders that will work. It goes without saying that if it doesn't work, people won't use it. I haven't looked at grinders yet, but I wouldn't be interested in purchasing something that won't get the job done quickly. One solution being discussed involves power grinders, and an attendant (probably a campground host getting a good deal on RV parking), but I really question whether that's a practical solution (who's going to sit there in a lawn chair all day grinding up fish carcasses?)

      EDUCATING FISHERMEN

      Anyway, there are some new informational pieces to this that were launched this year; one is a DVD explaining the problem and encouraging folks to "Stop, Chop and Throw" the carcasses well out into moving water. This DVD is playing continuously at a station at Sportsman's Landing (the Ferry Crossing). They also have similar instructions playing on an AM repeater at the ferry crossing, that you can listen to on your car radio. The sense within this group is that one of the keys is education of the fishermen, and I agree with that. Many folks have developed bad habits down there, and it's going to take a concentrated effort to change those habits. An example of a successful attempt in that area was that years ago, salmon carcasses were mostly disposed of in dumpsters in the Russian River Campground and the ferry crossing area. After about five years of educational efforts, fishermen are now disposing of most of the carcasses in the river. The Kenai Brown Bear Committee feels that it will probably take about five years to re-educate fishermen to grind or chop carcasses before tossing them into the river.

      YOU CAN CARRY FISH, BUT NOT "CHIPS"

      As to the effect this practice will have on the bear situation, it remains to be seen. A bear can carry an entire salmon carcass off to eat, but he cannot carry a mouthful of goo very far. Unless we give them straws to suck this stuff up like a giant fish slurpee, it's gonna be really hard for them to feed on it at all. That's the point. The present situation is attracting bears to the river, and particularly to the places we clean our fish. Also, stringers of fish along the bank form an especially attractive lure. If we change our habits in these two areas, I think we'll see some progress. It's certainly worth a try.

      THE BEARS MOSTLY AREN'T FISHING

      Regarding the question of whether bears are fishing for their own fish, or just eating what we catch, I can say this: I've never seen a bear catch a salmon on the Russian River. They don't have to; we toss our fish waste right where they can get it, and we place stringers of whole salmon along the bank where all they have to do is walk down and grab them. Many of the bears there probably have never caught a fish in their lives, but instead subsist on our leavings, augmented with the carcasses of spawned-out fish later in the season. Dead spawners are mostly unavailable until later in the season, when most of the summer fishermen are gone. Some of the above is extrapolated from what I know (informed speculation, let's call it). But I have personally seen this in action. The sow with the three cubs last year; the sow was shot, as was one cub, and Gimpy was wounded? I saw that sow repeatedly bring her cubs to the river in the sanctuary area, where she would drop them off along the cut bank there and go back in the brush. The cubs would go down to the river's edge where everyone was fishing, the fishermen would back off and the bears would grab their fish laying there on the bank. They'd take the fish up into the brush where they'd eat them with mama. Those bears never did learn how to properly fish. After the shooting, I heard that the two remaining cubs were fishing together, but the uninjured one was fishing for herself and for her injured sibling (Gimpy). I don't know whether they were actually catching fish, or whether they were simply gathering carcasses and dead fish, as they had been trained to do by mama. The point is that we have trained these bears to feed on our more than adequate leavings. They no longer need to fish, and that's why we need to do something. I believe if the bears had to fish, they would move upriver where fishing is easier, and once they were there, they'd establish a pecking order as do all bears in such situations. The Gimpy's of the world, who cannot compete with other bears for the resource, would either die or go elsewhere. This is the natural order of things elsewere in Alaska, where bears and salmon are found.

      I think (I don't know, because I'm not there in the fall) that bears probably frequent the lower river in the fall, when there are more carcasses deposited there naturally. I don't see a problem with that, because by then most of the folks are gone. We still have an increasing number of local fishermen (Alaskans) who fish the Russian at that time, but nothing close to what's there in June and July; these are the target months this plan is designed to impact. I'm sure some bears do fish later in the year, but you generally don't see it during the June / July sockeye season.

      ELIMINATION OF THE BEARS?

      Yesterday I was told of a Management Plan that suggested that there are three different kinds of places in Alaska; places where people should stay out and let the bears have it to themselves, places where bears and people can realistically co-exist, and places where bears should be eliminated, so people can fish there in relative safety. The report indicated that the Russian River was an area where bears should be eliminated. I will attempt to obtain a copy of this report and post it here, if I can find it. I don't necessarily agree with this thinking, but I do think we need to take responsibility for the fact that we're providing food for these bears, and quit doing it somehow. The only way we'll know if that works is to try it.

      REGULATORY CONSTRAINTS

      One thing I am hearing is a great reluctance on the part of ADFG to impose regulations forcing folks to chop or grind the fish carcasses. Enforcement is already spread thinly, and it would create other problems. I was told that the Department is sending a couple of people down there this weekend to pitchfork some of the accumulated carcasses out into the main current, and probably to chop some of it up manually. They're very concerned about it. It's possible that once the education process has run its course, we may see regulations requiring further action on our part. I hope we don't have to go there, but I do know that the current "Stop, Chop and Throw" program is not being followed by most fishermen down there, despite the money and effort that has been spent so far. I know, we're just getting started, and I need to be patient. It will take time. I'm just encouraging folks to do it.

      COMMENTS FROM INEXPERIENCED FOLKS

      One final thing; I don't mind comments from folks who haven't been there, but you have to realize that unless you've seen this situation first-hand, it's pretty difficult to intelligently discuss it. Not impossible, but difficult. Some of the comments I'm reading here appear to be from folks who have never been there. This is a serious issue, and I hope we can come up with meaningful input. Some of the people involved in crafting solutions to this are reading this thread, and I hope we can give them something useful to work with. Our opinions matter!

      -Mike
      Last edited by Michael Strahan; 07-01-2006, 09:51.
      Michael Strahan
      Site Owner
      Alaska Hunt Consultant
      1 (406) 662-1791

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      • #18
        Originally posted by bydingtime
        If we don't wake up and realize that this is a fight for our hunting and fishing privilege then we are a lot closer to losing than anyone realizes.
        Right on! The non-angling public has no quarrel with fishing when it's done respectfully and graciously with an intent to put a meal on the table.

        What the non-angling public doesn't understand or accept is contempuous disregard: a free-for-all feeding frenzy, score-card fishing, "Yee haw, it's hammer time. Let's get them hawgs and she-pigs while it's hot," and .44 totin' Rambos leaving bear cubs to perish from hunger.

        Such nonsense leaves the general public agreeing with Tolstoy: "After the doctor's departure Koznyshev felt inclined to go to the the river with his fishing rod. He was fond of angling, and seemed proud of being able to like such a stupid occupation." —Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, Book 1, Part 3, Chapter 2.

        We are the problem, not the bears.

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        • #19
          Sadly, the state of affairs at the Russian FFO/Sanctuary makes it very unlikely that it will be a place where bears and humans can have a safe and peaceful co-existence. The meat-market atmosphere of that fishery is equivalent to a bear-baiting station, only on a much grander scale. It is far too accessible to the masses, most of which are naive and uneducated about the ways of these wild creatures. Until the masses of ignorant and careless people can be eliminated, the only other practical choice is to eliminate the bears. That's the harsh reality of it.

          Some beach....
          "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone." Zane Grey
          sigpic
          The KeenEye MD

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          • #20
            Hmmmmmm.....

            If you have access to power for the grinders, methinks you would also have sufficient access to install and retrieve dumpsters to collect the waste, then haul it to one central grinder.

            You still don't address the question of what happens to the ground waste. Almost every coastal town with a cannery in Alaska struggles with waste disposal, and the biggest culprit is failure to distribute ground waste sufficiently. It can result in all sorts of problems in harbors and backwaters, with notable intervention by the EPA. Exceptions are Dutch Harbor, Kodiak, Seward and Petersberg which finally had to install fish meal plants to deal with ground waste that accumulated rather than spread. If you don't make provisions for the ground fish to be very well distributed, you got a real mess on your hands.

            Don't know about all this or the specifics of geography, but the thinking seems really narrow and fuzzy.

            It's clear you need a solution, but there are lots more to look at.

            How about floating dumpsters which can be towed across the river periodically like the ferry? You could also design a system so that the ferry hauled carcasses partway across the river and dumped them in the strong current on each round trip.

            How about a requirement that folks simply bag and haul their carcasses back to the parking lot and a central holding dumpster, citations issued to nonconformists? That wouldn't be any more hassle than the proud load of fillets going back to the parking lot. Anyone that showed up with fillets and no carcasses would be cited.
            "Lay in the weeds and wait, and when you get your chance to say something, say something good."
            Merle Haggard

            Comment


            • #21
              Originally posted by BrownBear
              ...You still don't address the question of what happens to the ground waste. Almost every coastal town with a cannery in Alaska struggles with waste disposal, and the biggest culprit is failure to distribute ground waste sufficiently...
              BrownBear,

              You've hit one of the key issues on the head. Some of the ADFG folks I spoke to yesterday thought that the ground up carcasses would simply flush downriver, particularly if they were dumped in fast water. But I'm not convinced that the stuff won't simply accumulate in the deeper holes. I've been down there after spawning has taken place and have seen deep holes literally two feet deep in spawned salmon eggs. This stuff will accumulate in deeper pockets downstream of these grinding stations. The real question is whether that poses a biological hazard. I tried to find the term for this (maybe a bio can help us out here?), but there are circumstances where if this stuff accumulates, there are things that happen on a bacteriological level that are not good. I believe that the more you allow water to circulate around and through the material, the better off you are. Therefore, whole carcasses are better than a fish slurry. I think the solution lies in finding a grinder that doesn't reduce the carcass to paste, but simply chops it up in small, rough chunks that are too small to interest a bear. Yes, these chunks will accumulate, but I think it's going to be hard for a bear to carry them off like they do with carcasses. A bear would have to literally stand in the river and eat it like dog food. It's possible that some bears would do that, but I doubt they would. It would have to be tried in order to really know.

              Anyway, you make a key point. This is currently being discussed. What I'd like to know is whether we gain anything by simply chunking it up with a rough grinder. I like the idea of putting it back into the river, because it's really good for the rainbow and dolly fishery! It also feeds salmon smolts throughout the Kenai system.

              -Mike
              Michael Strahan
              Site Owner
              Alaska Hunt Consultant
              1 (406) 662-1791

              Comment


              • #22
                Non sequitur. . .

                Originally posted by fishNphysician
                Sadly, the state of affairs at the Russian FFO/Sanctuary makes it very unlikely that it will be a place where bears and humans can have a safe and peaceful co-existence. The meat-market atmosphere of that fishery is equivalent to a bear-baiting station, only on a much grander scale. It is far too accessible to the masses, most of which are naive and uneducated about the ways of these wild creatures. Until the masses of ignorant and careless people can be eliminated, the only other practical choice is to eliminate the bears. That's the harsh reality of it.

                Some beach....


                While the current "state of affairs at the Russian FFO/Sanctuary makes it very unlikely that it will be a place where bears and humans can have a safe and peaceful coexistence," it does not at all follow that the only practical solution to the"meat market atmosphere" is to "eliminate the bears." Far from it!

                The operative words above are "meat market atmosphere." Eliminating the bears will do nothing to change "the meat market atmosphere" of the fishery. Is that what we're trying to preserve? More "Yee haw" fishing? More score cards? How has angling arrived at such a debauched state?

                Might not it be much easier and more rational to restrict the meat market atmosphere of the fishery — limited numbers of anglers, limited areas open to angling, limited fishing hours?

                But there's that "opportunity" thing again. . . Heaven forbid we should restrict "naive and uneducated," "ignorant and careless people" in an effort to restore sanity to the fishery.

                My vote goes for eliminating the "meat market atmosphere," not the bears.

                Comment


                • #23
                  Originally posted by Marcus

                  My vote goes for eliminating the "meat market atmosphere," not the bears.
                  Better put this one on record.... Marcus and I actually agree on something!
                  "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone." Zane Grey
                  sigpic
                  The KeenEye MD

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by fishNphysician
                    Better put this one on record.... Marcus and I actually agree on something!
                    Actually, doc, I agreed here with your ealier statement: "Part of the natural scheme of recycling salmon carcasess is that the flesh-derived nutrients are released slowly into the system thru the summer fall and even into winter for some of the later-arriving salmon species." Well noted. . .

                    Now if we could just agree on what constitutes a "meat market atmosphere" angling experience. . .

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      combat fishing

                      By the time the words "fast" and "food" became inextricably entwined in our cultural mindset, a lot had changed for the worse.

                      When "combat" and "fishing" became entwined, and then actually accepted by so many, a lot had changed for the worse. Even on state or fed websites about the Russian, you'll find descriptions about "combat fishing." It's even now touted, among anglers, as some sort of "cool" thing to participate in, at least once <grin>.

                      As our hunting and angling culture accepts such things, one has to wonder,"What's next?" Is there no limit to what we are willing to put up with? There is certainly no limit to the amount of limits we will have to impose down the line, at some point, in some places. Conflict resolution is admirable when practiced among differing user groups. But bears, and the river itself and all the life within it, don't get a seat at that table.

                      I fished once at the Russian, back in the late 80s when my in-laws drove up to Alaska and we toured the state with them for a couple of weeks. Well I didn't really fish, didn't have the stomach for that type of fishing, but my father-in-law fished. And he didn't so much "mind" the shoulder to shoulder aspect, and it wasn't nearly as bad back then I suppose.

                      A friend visited a few years ago, and also toured the state. He told us an amusing story of fishing the Russian. He'd finally got a spot along shore and was flossing. A young boy, maybe ten years old, fell in the river about fifty yards upstream and began drifting down in the current, trying to stand up again. His mother yelled, screamed. My friend said that no one did anything, several anglers complained and yelled at the boy when he fouled their lines...my friend jumped in about knee deep, reached out and grabbed the boy and hauled him ashore, where the boy's mother thanked him. He turned to find his place taken by another angler. And then he heard this comment: "You can always tell the non-residents; they're the only ones naive enough to give up their spot to save a careless boy."

                      Granted, it was tongue in cheek, but in fact he did lose his spot along the river, and said even in the states he'd never seen anything quite like fishing along the Russian.

                      Cheers,
                      Mark
                      Mark Richards
                      www.residenthuntersofalaska.org

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                      • #26
                        For my part

                        I am willing to try the grinder, but I do not believe, even if it is an easy to use, simple task, that it is going to mitigate the current problem. The fact of the matter is there is a careless attitude among too many fisherman on the Russian during the June and July fishing. This thoughtlessness will hamper any efforts that would have an effect on the issue.

                        There are a good number of fisherman who spend time on the Russian, and chop their carcassess before throwing them into the current. Unfortunately, I belive these will be the same fisherman that will use the grinders.

                        I am not beyond attempting something new, however. We can hope for the best, and all try and educate our fellow fisherman. And would even be willing to pay an additional dollar fee for parking, for a limited time, to help pay for the grinders. I support any effort to reduce the problem before considering drastic measures such as removing bears or limiting access.

                        I do not support limiting the access or numbers of people to the Russian, as long as the habitat can support them. We can not turn every place in the state into a limited access sanctuary. I agree there is a place for them, but there must also be a place for the people who are not lucky enough to draw a permit for access to those places.

                        In regards to the carcass issue, I know it helps the ecosystem to have them there. I do think they are an unnatural source of nutrition that early in the season (although I appreciate the extra help being an avid dolly and rainbow fisherman). Anyone who has fished the russian in august or september knows the carcasses of spawned out red salmon congregate at every hollow and bend in the river. I do not think grinding up the filleted carcasses will have an adverse effect on the nutrition that will still be supplied by the thousands of spawned out carcesses.

                        That is my opinion, and I appreciate any and all efforts made by on this board or by Fish and Game in an effort to reduce the gowing problem.
                        "A vote is like a rifle: its usefulness depends upon the character of the user." Theodore Roosevelt, 1913

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                        • #27
                          Social oxymorons. . .

                          "Fast-food" and "combat-fishing" remind me of something Ted Kerasote noted about "decaffeinated-coffee," another oxymoron: "It should be little wonder that the rise in popularity of catch-and-release fishing matches the rise in consumption of decaffeinated coffee in developed nations. In the case of fishing, you get the smell, the taste, and a bit of the buzz of the real thing. . . without all the unpleasant side effects. . ."

                          All in good fun. . .

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                          • #28
                            While we should strive to reduce DLP shooting of bears in this area, it does seem ironic that for each bear that is saved, a boar may then be shot later by permit. I would be reluctant to modify an area that sees 150,000 vistors a year just so a dozen hunters can try their luck to hunt a KP brown bear.

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                            • #29
                              Grinders

                              They make commercial grinders for the exact purpose you are talking about. Nebraska Game and Parks have installed them in fish cleaning stations and they work great. I have used them to grind whole 10-12 lb walleye carcasses up and they don't even slow down. As far as safety I can't remember any accidents caused by these in the last 8 or 10 years that they have been in use. My dad installed them at our local lakes and they really cut the waste issue down around the cleaning stations and provided plenty of nutrients for the fish.

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