Hunt Closed in Refuge, Public Hearings Tonight and Monday

We’ve previously reported that the federally-managed Kenai National Wildlife Refuge has closed brown bear hunting within their borders while the State kept the hunt open elsewhere.


Steve Miller Deputy Refuge Manager said a public hearing will be held tonight in Anchorage from 6-9pm and at the Gilman River Center in Soldotna on Monday, 6-9pm…


Miller: “This gives the opportunity for us to let the public know our reasoning behind why we decided to close it, and then give also give the public an opportunity to provide comments on that. So, at the meetings both tonight and on Monday the 25th, we will be giving a short presentation, and then we’ll be taking public comments.”


The Board of Game earlier this year liberalized the hunt after local residents complained of too many bears in the area. The State said they were disappointed the Refuge moved to close the hunt without more collaboration, but Miller said they respect the State’s decisions…


Miller: “We’ve been meeting locally with counterparts in the Department of Fish & Game, and there was back and forth. Their reasoning behind what they had done is to decrease the brown bear population on the peninsula, and that is not our goal on the refuge. Our goal on the refuge is to have a healthy brown bear population and the state is well within their rights outside of the refuge to reduce the population, but it was getting too extreme on the refuge and we decided to close.”


Miller said the hunt may have been closed even earlier, except most workers were furloughed at the time, due to the federal government shut down.


The closure will end on midnight of the 24th, but Miller said most bruins will be denned out at that point. The refuge plans to consider the issue further between now the opening of next year’s hunt.

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