Subject: Alaska Wildlife Management & HJR69
Dear Ms. Hartman
Thank you again for calling with your questions about the repeal of the federal rule. The repeal simply nullifies new regulations in effect since last September that allowed the federal government to override state wildlife management authority on Alaska’s 16 wildlife refuges. Contrary to what some activists have claimed, it does not allow hunters to gas wolf pups in their dens, to shoot bears and wolves from airplanes, or allow bears to be taken in steel-jawed traps.
With regard to your question about taking bears in dens, nothing in the regulations has changed. As I mentioned in our conversation, the harvest of black bears at dens is allowed under state and federal regulations in a limited, very remote wilderness area where the practice is considered customary and traditional for obtaining food. The harvest is small and carried out mostly, if not entirely, by Alaska Native people who have taken bears in dens for thousands of years. It is not a common or popular hunting method and is not employed by the general hunting community. To learn more about this practice and the people who undertake it you might consider reading the book “Shadows on the Koyukuk,” by Sidney Huntington and Jim Rearden, which details the subsistence lifestyles of the people of the Koyukuk River Basin, where this is allowed.
Here is some more information that may be of interest to you:
Q. DOES THE STATE OF ALASKA PERMIT AERIAL GUNNING OF BEARS?
A. Aerial hunting of bears is prohibited under general hunting regulations. Bears may be taken from the air in state-approved intensive management programs in limited areas by state staff only. The state is not conducting intensive management for bears on any federal lands, nor was it prior to the FWS rule.
Q. DOES THE STATE OF ALASKA ALLOW AERIAL HUNTING OF WOLVES?
A. Aerial hunting of wolves is prohibited under general hunting regulations. Only agents of the state in approved intensive management programs in limited areas may hunt wolves from the air. There are no state intensive management programs on National Park Service or FWS lands.
Q. DOES THE STATE OF ALASKA PERMIT THE GASSING OF WOLF PUPS?
A. This is prohibited under general hunting regulations.
Q. DOES THE STATE OF ALASKA ALLOW THE DENNING OF BEARS AND/OR CUBS?
A. The harvest of black bears at dens is allowed in a limited area under state and federal regulations where it is considered a customary and traditional practice for obtaining food.
Q. DOES THE STATE OF ALASKA ALLOW DENNING OF WOLVES OR WOLF PUPS?
A. No. This can occur only in approved intensive management programs and only by state staff. It was done in one program in 2008 and 2009.
Q. DOES THE STATE OF ALASKA PERMIT THE TAKING OF BEARS OVER BAIT?
A. Yes. The harvest of bears over bait is a form of regulated take in many areas of Alaska and the Lower 48 states. The Federal Subsistence Board also allows federally qualified subsistence users to harvest bears over bait on federal land.
Q. DOES THE STATE OF ALASKA ALLOW BEARS TO BE TAKEN IN STEEL-JAWED TRAPS?
Q. WILL THE STATE BOARD OF GAME AUTHORIZE PREDATOR CONTROL IN REFUGES?
A. No, only the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service can authorize predator control programs in refuges.
*For more Q&A on this subject, visit http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=hottopics.res69
I hope this information helps. Thank you again for your phone call.