|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Date:||March 7, 2007|
|Contact:||Jim Stratton, NPCA Alaska Regional Director, 907.277.6722 x.23 email@example.com|
Victory for Katmai/McNeil River Bears in Alaska
Alaska Board of Game responds to public pressure, votes to close states lands inside Katmai National Park to bear hunting
The Alaska Board of Game voted unanimously on Tuesday, March 6, 2007, to close state lands immediately adjacent to McNeil River State Game Sanctuary to brown bear hunting, including state owned lands inside the boundary of Katmai National Park. These lands, known as the Kamishak Special Use Area, have been closed to hunting since 1985, but were scheduled to be opened for the first time in 22 years on July 1, 2007.
“We’re ecstatic,” said Jim Stratton, Alaska regional director of the National Parks Conservation Association. “In our testimony before the board on this issue, NPCA presented 11,000 letters from our members in all 50 states asking that this area be kept closed and, to their credit, the board listened.”
NPCA and others are concerned about a visible decline in the number of bears at McNeil River and in Katmai Preserve. “With declining bear numbers observed at both McNeil and Katmai, it made no sense to add to the problem by opening yet more land for brown bear hunting,” Stratton said.
Concern about declining populations had also prompted NPCA to ask the Board of Game to reduce hunting pressure on bears in Katmai National Preserve, where bear hunting is legal. However, the Board of Game did not respond to the concern that too many bears are being killed.
“Our next step in this effort to protect Katmai and McNeil bears is to work with the National Park Service. The Park Service has a mandate from Congress to ensure ‘high concentrations’ of brown bears, but our evidence concludes that’s not happening,” added Stratton.