Hmmm, habituating bears so that they're used to human presence until September, then hunting nearby from October - sounds a bit unfair to the bears!
Yup. That's what already happens in Katmai. People might be interested in reading this link: nationalparkstraveler.com/podcast/2007/bear-…
Ken Day's article brought tears to my eyes. It's a little hard to type right now....
BTW, I don't know if it was just my connection, but there was a wide, dark bar down the right side of the page, making it hard to read. So what I did was highlight the typing. For anyone who doesn't know what that means, place your mouse at the beginning of the article, press and hold the left button down while you scroll the length of whatever you want to read, then release the button and either hit the "home" button or else use your mouse on the scrollbar at the right side of the screen to go back to the top of the page (or the scroll button on your mouse itself, though that's a tad slower).
Oops, forgot to thank Von for bringing this to our attention! :-)Edited: 10:08 am, May 14, 2010
When I read Von's op I had the same thought... How can you have a place set aside to view bears, expect them to be tolerant of humans and then turn around and have open hunting season? I had no idea the same thing was going on in other National Preserves.
Thanks to MM for posting that article. It's eye opening. I tried to watch the video but couldn't make it through. How is that considered sport? It's like shooting fish in a barrel! The video is very representative of the behavior of the bears in Katmai. I took a trip there in 2008 (with Bald Mountain) despite the initial terror of having those huge animals so close, it was the knowledge that the bears do not see humans as predators that reassured me. Come to find out that is not the case!
I am by no means against hunting but this seems to be more like wildlife mismanagement. I found another video of Alaska's NPCA regional director on a local tv show discussing the conflict between state and federal wildlife management philosophies in Alaska. Heres the link if anyone is interested. Now what can we do about it?
Yeah you know, it didn't seem "just right" to me either . . . but I tried not to let my "lower 48" bias and naivity affect my perspective.
It is interesting to me to learn that this is not necessarily unusual (per MM's post on Katmai). Yet in Denali NP & Preserve, they prohibit hunting inside the park boundaries. I remember reading about the incident involving Iditarod musher Jeff King and the moose that was alledgedly killed inside park boundaries.
Anyway, I have always been curious about Kodiak so maybe my bear viewing trip for summer 2011 will need to be there.
>>Yet in Denali NP & Preserve, they prohibit hunting inside the park boundaries<<
Actually, that is not the case. DNP has a whole subsistence plan for trapping and hunting. The area around Kantishna is about the only place that allows hunting within visitor's use areas including most of the backcountry units.
Allowing hunting around the parks is a hard choice. On the other hand, I have worked with parks that didn't use to allow it and the bear population grew too large for the food sources resulting in many very unhealthy bears that became aggressive to humans since they were starving.
Sometimes there is no right answer but the choice has to be made and you hope that you end up with the lesser of the two evils.
Oh OK - and King must not have been authorized under the substinance policy.
Well, when hunters are allowed to kill in the exact same location that people were previously doing bear-watches, THAT is totally unacceptable.
It is WRONG to teach the bears it's okay to have humans around, then walk up and murder them. What kind of "sport" is that??? Anyone who would shoot a bear in such a situation should be ashamed of himself. And anyone who led such an expedition should be shot himself.
When I was a kid, I proudly wore 2 buttons on my lapel. One read "Real people wear fake fur" and the other said "Support your right to arm bears". It never occurred to me I might have to take the second one seriously some day....
Problem bears (sick, aggressive) need to be dealt with, and I understand their being killed if necessary. But to murder healthy, good-tempered bears just for the fun of it is a sin. It breaks my heart to think that the sweet-natured bear who curiously came within 10 feet of me last year (and therefore would be an easy target), might just weeks later have become a carcass rotting in the river because of some trigger-happy fool.
Keep the hunting areas and the bear-viewing areas WELL away from each other, large buffer zone in between.
Shame on those disgusting people in the video. What big, brave men. /not.
Timesharevon - You are correct in that King is not eligible to hunt in the subsistence area.
MM - I do agree that hunting in areas where the bears are habituated is unacceptable. It's like shooting ducks in a bucket.
The hunting is not allowed within Katmai's National Park limits but is allowed within the preserve limits. But as you know, many of the bear tours use the preserve area so they aren't with the crowds of other bear viewers. If they increased the buffer zone I often wonder if the bear viewing guides would use those areas or if they would continue to expand out further thereby further increasing the habituation of more bears and exasperating the problem even more? Your thoughts are welcome and appreciated on this.
Fortunately, Denali actively maintains a nonhabituation program in the park.
I do understand that people want to hunt and it is a big source of revenue for the state of Alaska. I grew up in a family that hunted, still hunts, and I was taught to use a rifle by 7 years old. My father always only hunted for food and never as a "sport" which is what was ingrained in us from a young age. When your lunch was only bread with a choice of mayo or mustard on it period, hunting was subsistence for our dirt poor family back in the sixties.Edited: 6:15 pm, May 15, 2010
"If they increased the buffer zone I often wonder if the bear viewing guides would use those areas or if they would continue to expand out further thereby further increasing the habituation of more bears and exasperating the problem even more? Your thoughts are welcome and appreciated on this."
My thoughts are: make rules, make 'em fair, and make 'em stick.
Once the bear-viewing zone is established (probably a bit larger than it is now, to allow for some future expansion), then that's it unless everyone comes back to the table and agrees (probably a cold day you-know-where before that would happen, lol). I think the bear-viewing industry needs more regulation too--maybe along the idea of Anan Creek, with permits issued for different areas so not too many tours go at once. It's also important that the bears have their habitat disturbed as little as possible--and that means by the pollution of the planes too.
Anyone breaking the rules pays a substantial fine and is not allowed to apply for permits for at least 12 months.
That type of penalty should be for hunters too, who violate the buffer zone. If someone can't find a bear within the proper hunting zone, he's not much of a hunter in the first place. Of course, there will always be poachers, but the Rangers and other authorities should do what they can to enforce the laws. It might help if most of the permit money could go towards enforcement, either better technology for detection or hiring more personnel.
I just hope it doesn't end up with a web cam in every other tree.... ;-)
BTW, I have no problem with people who hunt only for food, as long as they abide by the rules of fair chase (which the majority of them do: boone-crockett.org/huntingEthics/… ).
But I do take issue with trophy hunters. I will never understand why anyone could think that an animal head looks better on their wall than it did on the animal.
So if I'm planning on a bear watching adventure or two...how will I know if it is in a spot that is doing this...will the bear viewing tours tell you?