In 2 days worth of spotting we saw 10 different Browns. As much as i tried to convince myself through the glasses that they were not Browns they had all the unmistakable characteristics. 6 of the 10 were sows with 2 cubs so there will be plenty more in the future.
I agree, if you look at the results of the reports at the end of each year we hunters on the refuge turn in, the number of browns spotted over bait stations has dramatically increased every year over the past 10 yrs or so.
I have been convinced for some years now tht ADF&G is far underestimating the number of browns on the Peninsula. Every year they close the season before it starts because of a few defense of life/property kills, in a claim that the numbers are too low to allow a further harvest. Does anyone know the last time they actually did a comprehensive population estimate? I know that my informal observations are only circumstantial evidence, but I see far more brown bears on the Kenai Peninsula per time in the field than I do anywhere else. It's not just on the salmon streams, either. I spend a lot of time hiking/climbing/biking in the Kenai Mountains far from any salmon run and consistently see brown bears. I have a hard time believing that the numbers are as low as F&G claims. I understand, however, the need to err on the side of caution.
Does anyone know if there have been recent studies? Any links?
Brian, it's been a long time since they did real quantifiable density estimates of brown bears on the Kenai. They have been using habitat data and extrapolations from other similar areas to "guesstimate."
In 2003, the Board of Game passed Resolution 139 that recommended ADFG to manage brown bears in units 7 and 15 "so that the total human-caused mortality does not exceed 20 bears per year." Since it's an area of "special concern," they are managing very conservatively. Between DLP kills, road kills, illegal kills, and it essentially being a "closed" area to immigration, they are, as you say, erring on the side of caution.
What we'd like to do in future in conjunction with ABHA is convince the Dept. to utilize hunters to help with density estimates of bears in areas where no funding exists for this. If every bear-baiter were to also be allowed to set up a hair-snag/barb wire station in conjunction with black-bear baiting, and grants were secured to fund the dna testing at lab, in conjunction with ADFG we as hunters could accomplish what the Dept. can't do alone. And then we'd get a much better picture of how many bears are actually out there. One thing is for sure---with the logging and habitat encroachment on the Kenai, we need a reliable bear density estimate and the funding to do it. I think bear baiters and those like yourself who spend time in the field, even non-consumptive users, could be a valuable asset to wildlife managers if we found a way to work together on certain projects. As usual, more on the plate than I can handle...but this idea has been kicked around and we hope to get it off the ground in future.
When was the last year they had a open season here. Im not talking when they open it up for like 3 bear then close it after 3 bears had been takin. I talking open must have been like mid to late 80s... any one remember....
First off, I would like to say I have the utmost respect for former F & G bear man Ted Spraker. He and I talked a couple of years ago and he told me that there is really no way for them to count the brownies, and that they manage them on the ultra conservitive side. Well, I arguied with Ted and told him that I have lived on the Peninsula for the past 28 years and when you have 5 brown bears hit by vehicles, 8 killed by DLP, and numerous encounters/maulings, in one year, that should point to MORE bears. It seems that Ted has passed on his "not enough bears" therory, to his protege, Jeff Selinger. He also sets the DLP limit and wether there will be a hunt or not. I'm thinking the Peninsula is becoming over populated with Browns and it's time to harvest more than a few.
This is the first year that I have had a bait stations on the Kenai. On saturday night, I got bluff charged by an approximately 3 year old sow who along with her brother found our way to our bait. We're waiting a few days and packing up the station and moving onto another area. I heard that there was a DLP bear taken this weekend somewhere near Moose Pass. Just my comments on the brown bear explosion on the Kenai.