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Realistic Bear population on the Kenai

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  • 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.

  • #2
    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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    • #3
      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!
      I may be slow, but I get where I'm going!

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      • #4
        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!
        Unknown author

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        • #5
          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.
          ALASKA is a "HARD COUNTRY for OLDMEN". (But if you live it wide'ass open, it is a delightful place to finally just sit-back and savor those memories while sipping Tequila).

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          • #6
            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.

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            • #7
              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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              • #8
                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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                • #9
                  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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                  • #10
                    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.
                    Alaska Board of Game 2015 tour... "Kicking the can down the road"
                    http://www.alaskabackcountryhunters.org/

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                    • #11
                      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.
                      ALASKA is a "HARD COUNTRY for OLDMEN". (But if you live it wide'ass open, it is a delightful place to finally just sit-back and savor those memories while sipping Tequila).

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                      • #12
                        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.
                        Alaska Board of Game 2015 tour... "Kicking the can down the road"
                        http://www.alaskabackcountryhunters.org/

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                        • #13
                          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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                          • #14
                            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.
                            ALASKA is a "HARD COUNTRY for OLDMEN". (But if you live it wide'ass open, it is a delightful place to finally just sit-back and savor those memories while sipping Tequila).

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              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"
                              http://www.alaskabackcountryhunters.org/

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