December 18, 2013

Think About It……..                                                                       December 18, 2013

Have you seen the Kenai Peninsula Moose News yet?  If not you should get a copy of the Winter 2013-14 edition and read it.  It is the product of local input from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game people in the Soldotna office on K-Beach Road. Local people like Information Officer Ken Marsh, Kenai Area Biologist Jeff Selinger and Regional Supervisor Larry Van Daele.

The Kenai Peninsula Moose News has twelve large pages just packed with very interesting and informative information on our Kenai Peninsula Moose. What’s so amazing is that these Alaska State Biologists can be so upbeat and positive about our Moose population in GMU 15A. Everyone knows our Moose populations have been on a steep downhill slide for many years and will never recover under present conditions.

The reason Moose populations will continue to decline and we will always have very few Moose, is the federal governments strangle hold on the Kenai Peninsula through the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, headquartered in Soldotna.

Let’s look at the facts.  Moose numbers, Peninsula-wide, were as high as 9000 animals at one time in the 1970’s and over 6000 moose in the early 1990’s.  The reason, huge wildfires in 1947 and 1969 created excellent browse and moose habitat. However, maturing spruce forests in the early 1980’s, and continuing through today, have virtually eliminated quality moose browse in GMU 15A. Today the moose population is down to less than 1600 moose.

The State Board of Fish and Game identified GMU 15A as an Intensive Management Area again this year. Now after 13 years the Intensive management has failed.  And no wonder, as the paper states “Efforts to implement large-scale habitat enhancement and predator control in GMU 15A are limited by land ownership.” Who owns the great majority of the land? Most all of the mature spruce forests in the area?  The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

“As a result, Alaska’s efforts to implement moose habitat enhancement and predator control are limited,” according to our local biologists. They are allowed only on the small fringe of state and native land along the edge of the huge federal wildlife refuge. The paper is very careful not to alienate the Feds even though they are the problem: allowing no wild fires to burn, no controlled burns, no mechanical clearing of any mature spruce and birch trees and of course no logging of any kind. All of those measures, if allowed, would create large areas of moose browse.

The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge refuses to manage their land huge holdings for quality moose habitat. The Feds refuse to manage their huge holdings for common sense predator control and management. The Feds do not think like Alaskans. Ask them and they will tell you they manage their land for populations in all the states not just for the good of Alaskans.

That’s why large numbers of our world famous gigantic moose on the Kenai Peninsula have gone away and will never return. Our Alaskan biologists are fighting a losing battle and yet, good for them, they continue to be positive as you will see when you read the Moose News.

Think About It!     John Davis   12-18-2013

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