Thursday, January 26, 2012

Alaska Legalizes Aerial Hunting of Bears

As part of a series of increasingly aggressive predator control methods, the Alaska Board of Game has authorized the aerial hunting and shooting of bears by wildlife officials, a move that has even met with criticism from big game hunters and that allows for the killing of not only mothers with cubs but bears lying defenseless in winter dens. The board is also debating a ruling that will allow for snaring of both black and grizzly bears at various locations. The reason for this? Significant losses of moose and caribou numbers along the Dalton Highway in the Gates of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Many hunters are arguing that there is no sense of fair play in these methods and the National Park Service is attempting to make a case that trapping and snaring are inhumane and often unsuccessful. So far, all please have fallen on deaf ears.

I'd actually be curious to know how they were able to come to the conclusion that bears and wolves are so heavily responsible for these losses. That would require a lot of man hours of observation and a large number of people on the ground to keep tabs on all of these animals in order to empirically determine that. I don't know, maybe they actually do have a fool-proof method. What I do know is that it's been a very harsh winter in Alaska and that has to contribute to the smaller numbers. I also know from spending time in Fairbanks that vehicle collisions are the number one cause of moose casualties in that area. Did whoever come up with these decreasing numbers factor that data into their equations? Again, I don't know. Maybe they did. Considering that Sarah Palin fought hard to put predator control methods like this into practice, I'm not too inclined to outright buy their reasoning for it. Right now the public outcry in Alaska against this is very high so we'll have to wait and see what effect that has.

Here are a couple of articles containing more information. First, further details on the new hunting expansion:

And finally an article by biologist Stephen Stringham refuting this new practice:


  1. Aerial hunting.........that is inhumane.

  2. I'll be honest, I have no real issues with hunting but I do believe that it should be done fairly. Being shot from aircraft or, even worse, while in their dens, the bears don't even have a 50/50 chance.

  3. this is horrible, what can we do to stop this abusiveness toward these animals ?
    it's depressing what's going on in this world today , heartbreaking.

  4. The best thing that we can do right now is send letters and e-mails to the Alaska Board of Game and plead the case that this is not a productive and viable option. Perhaps the same could be done with Alaska Fish and Game, though I'm not sure how involved they've been in making the decision.