Bear hunting a hot topic at the Alaska Board of Game Meeting

Published: Mar. 16, 2019 at 5:29 PM AKDT
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From potential changes to moose hunting regulations in the Kenai Peninsula region to discussions over increasing hunting opportunities around the Anchorage area, the Alaska State Board of Game has a full schedule this week.

The board has already begun hearing public comments regarding well over 100 proposed changes to the hunting regulations in Alaska's Southcentral region.

"We have close to 74 people that will testify at a public oral testimony," said Ted Spraker, chairman of the Alaska State Board of Game.

That scheduled testimony period has to be completed before the board can begin it's deliberation on the proposed changes. One of the big topics of discussion so far has been brown bear hunting on Kodiak Island.

According to president of the Alaska Professional Hunters Association, Sam Rohrer, guided and non-resident hunting generates around 87 million dollars a year for the state, with roughly 50% of that money going to communities in rural Alaska. In referencing those numbers, Rohrer cited a recent study done by the McDowell group.

During his testimony, Rohrer urged the board to vote against a proposal to allocated 90% of the available brown bear tags to resident hunters.

"It would have devastating financial affects on the community of Kodiak," he said.

Roher did acknowledge that many resident hunters do feel they get shorted on the amount of Kodiak brown bear tags drawn each year, but he says there are ways around that.

"Anyone can hunt the Kodiak Road System," said Rohrer, "Some folks continue to put in for hunts in areas where their chances are less that 1%."

Brad Sparks is one of the resident hunters who gave testimony this weekend. His solution is a proposed formation of a special pool of Kodiak brown bear tags that would be available to both residents and non residents at equal pricing.

"I put in every year since I've been here and this is the first year I've been drawn for a brown bear tag," Sparks told KTUU, "It took me 11 years."

Sparks is frustrated that around 40% of the Kodiak brown bear tags go to non-resident hunters, and he also voiced concern that non resident next of kin tags often come from the resident allocated tags as well.

While Kodiak brown bears certainly got a lot of attention during the early testimony on Saturday, the board heard comments on topics ranging from whether or not the state should permit crossbows in archery only territory- to why current flight restrictions are plaguing some sheep hunters.

The board will be tasked with deliberating on all of these and more areas of regulation with the state's hunting guidelines before they wrap up on Tuesday. Chairman Spaker said Saturday that it's likely another day and a half of testimony would take place before that process begins.