Alaska's Katmai Bears Still in Peril

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   August 16, 2007
Contact:   Jim Stratton, NPCA, 907.277.6722, ext. 203
Dave Bachrach, Katmai Bear Guide, AK Adventures, 907.235.1805
Chris Day, Katmai Bear Guide, Emerald Air Service, 907.299.3496
Derek Stonorov, Katmai Bear Guide, Former ADF&G/McNeil Sanctuary employee, 907.235.8273


Alaska's Katmai Bears Still in Peril

Former state officials urge Park Service to use federal authority to limit brown bear hunt to maintain bear populations in Katmai National Preserve

Anchorage, AK – A former governor of Alaska, a former chair of the Board of Game, leading Katmai bear guides, and others today joined the National Parks Conservation Association on a letter urging the National Park Service to take immediate action to reduce the number of brown bears hunted in Katmai National Preserve to ensure the health of the population.

The letter to National Park Service Alaska Regional Director Marcia Blaszak asks the Park Service to shorten this year’s fall hunting season in order to prevent further depletion of local brown bear numbers, giving the state and the Park Service time to develop a comprehensive brown bear management plan for Katmai National Preserve.

"The Park Service has a mandate from Congress to ensure ‘high concentrations’ of brown bears in Katmai National Preserve, but our evidence concludes that’s not happening," said Jim Stratton, senior Alaska regional director for the National Parks Conservation Association. "We feel strongly that the Park Service has the authority to take action because the state is threatening park wildlife by allowing an over-harvest of bears."

Concern about declining populations had prompted the National Parks Conservation Association, local bear guides, and photographers to ask the Board of Game in March to reduce hunting pressure on bears in Katmai National Preserve, but the Board of Game did not respond.

National Parks Conservation Association research, depicted in the graphic below, reveals a steady decline in the number of observable brown bears in Katmai. Meanwhile, the state is allowing trophy hunters to kill twice as many bears as recommended in 2003 by the Alaska Department of Fish & Game to maintain a sustainable population of bears.

The letter was signed by the following individuals: Ken and Chris Day, Katmai Bear Guides, Emerald Air Service; former ADF&G/McNeil Sanctuary employee Derek Stonorov; Dave Bachrach, Katmai Bear Guide, AK Adventures; Doug Pope, former Chair of the Alaska Board of Game; former Governor of Alaska Tony Knowles; Daniel Zatz, President, SeeMore Wildlife Systems; Larry Aumiller, Former Manager, McNeil River State Game Sanctuary; Tom Collopy & Mary Frische, Wild North Photography; Peg & Jules Tileston, wildlife photographers; Frank Rue, Former Commissioner of ADF&G; Vic Van Ballenberghe, Wildlife Biologist and Former Board of Game member; John Schoen, Ph.D., Senior Scientist Audubon Alaska; Tom Banks, Alaska Associate, Defenders of Wildlife; Eric Udhe, Public Lands Advocate, Alaska Center for the Environment; John Toppenberg, Executive Director, Alaska Wildlife Alliance; and Jim Stratton, Senior Alaska Regional Director, National Parks Conservation Association.

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