Predator Control Programs Adopted
The Board of Game voted unanimously to continue predator control programs in four areas of the state with some minor changes, and replaced one program with an expanded effort.
The Board updated the emergency regulations for predator control programs in Units 19A near Aniak, 19D East near McGrath, Unit 13 in the Nelchina Basin, Unit 16B along Cook Inlet, and Units 12 and 20E near Tok and made them permanent. In addition, the Board expanded the control program near Tok to benefit the Fortymile Caribou herd as well as resident moose populations.
A court ruling in January stopped five control programs due to technical inconsistencies in the regulations. At that time, the Board adopted emergency regulations to allow programs to continue, but the emergency regulations were slated to expire May 25. At their March meeting in Fairbanks, Board members decided to reconvene this weekend to decide whether to modify them or make them permanent.
The current wolf control program in the northern part of Unit 12 and Unit 20E was expanded to cover most of the Fortymile Caribou herd's range in Alaska (in Units 20E and portions of Units 20B, 20D, and 25C) to allow herd growth to resume. The Fortymile herd has been the focus of an international effort to allow it to repopulate its former range between Fort Yukon and Whitehorse. A non-lethal control program conducted in the mid-1990's allowed the herd to double in size from 20,000 to 42,000 animals in the late 1990's, but growth stopped two years ago.
The Board voted unanimously to repeal the Fortymile Non-lethal Predator Control Program which has remained on the books since it was suspended in 2001.
Predator control has been in effect in Unit 20E and the part of Unit 12 north of the Alaska Highway for wolves and in a part of Unit 20E for grizzly bears for two years to benefit the moose population in Unit 20E.
The Board also expanded the bear control area in Unit 20E to benefit resident moose populations by including more accessible areas important for bear hunting.
In Southcentral Alaska, the Board amended the boundaries of the Unit 16 control program to allow permittees to take wolves in the open area west of and along the Deshka River in Unit 16A to increase moose numbers in Unit 16B. The Board also allowed a fall balck bear baiting season in the control area of Unit 16B and 16A.
The Unit 13 program was reapproved virtually unchanged.
In Unit 19D East, where research has documented high levels of bear predation on moose calves, the Board approved adding bears to the control program, which would allow permittees the option to use bait stations to attract grizzly bears.
Board members allowed hunters to shoot a black bear at a bait station in areas with active predator control programs the same day they have flows as long as they are 300 feet from the airplane, as another management tool to reduce levels of bear predation. In areas where bear predation control programs have been specifically approved, using bait stations for grizzly bears and taking bears at these stations the same day airborne can be allowed.
A proposal to establish a predator control program to benefit Delta Caribou failed unanimously after Board members heard testimony that the Delta herd calves in the existing Unit 13 wolf control area. A proposal to allow hunters to snare bears as a legal method of take also failed.
The Board requested that ADF&G staff develop and submit a predator control plan for bears in Unit 16 at the March 2007 meeting, and one for wolves and bears in the Unit 14B at the March 2008 meeting.
This is the first Board meeting for recently appointed member Paul Johnson from Unalakleet. Because he was not a member in March, he was not eligible to vote on proposals presented to the Board at the March meeting and tabled until May.