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UPDATE: After canceling spring bear hunts, citing coronavirus concerns, state says residents may participate

Grizzly bear, 6/7/2005. (source: Oregon State University / CC BY-SA 2.0)
Grizzly bear, 6/7/2005. (source: Oregon State University / CC BY-SA 2.0)(KMVT)
Published: Apr. 1, 2020 at 10:47 PM AKDT
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UPDATE, April 2, 2020:

Gov. Mike Dunleavy rescinded the cancellation of all spring bear hunts in Alaska Thursday, saying that spring bear hunts will be open to Alaskan hunters, but not available to those non-residents and anyone from outside the state.

"There's already enough restrictions on movement," Dunleavy said. "When we make an advisory or mandate, we get feedback, and sometimes we revise it."

Updates will be reported as made available.

ORIGINAL STORY, April 1, 2020:

The bear hunting season would have begun this week in various communities across Alaska, but the state has now officially put a stop to spring hunts.

"This was discussed internally," said Gov. Mike Dunleavy during a press conference Wednesday evening. "Given the fact that the virus is very disruptive, and the enforcement issues, the answer.... is that the spring bear hunts will be postponed this year."

Early hunts are canceled in Alaska for both brown and black bears.

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cemented Dunleavy's announcement, saying the cancellation is effective statewide through May 31. The halting of the hunts is "[f]or the safety of Alaska's communities," according to the release, "and especially individuals most vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus."

"The decision will be reevaluated as necessary," officials went on, and "subsistence bear hunts will remain open as a way for residents to fill freezers and provide for families. Expect to hear more from the department in the near future, and please be patient with the department as they identify ways to minimize the impacts of this decision."

ADF&G will work with the Board of Game, the release stated, to identify future options for hunters both in Alaska and planning to visit Alaska this spring.

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as of Wednesday evening, with more than 1800 people having signed in the first three hours.

ADF&G did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday evening.

Copyright 2020 KTUU. All rights reserved.

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