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4300 Brown bear on one island

Old 12-04-2019, 09:45 AM
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Default 4300 Brown bear on one island

Nothing earth shattering, just a tidbit that some might enjoy...
I live on an island with approximately 11,000 other humans, somewhat over 125,000 deer, somewhere around 2000 mountain goats and approximately 4300 Brown bears (the island version of a grizzly ) and the population of all of the larger mammals except humans is increasing.
https://www.alaskapublic.org/2019/12...near-capacity/

Cut and pasted from the attached article...

"Relatively mild winters over the past decade have pushed deer populations in the Sitka area to record highs — and maybe even over the biological carrying capacity of the land in some places.

In addition to deer, the bear population is increasing due to the mild climate and — as Sitkans are more than aware — bears are remaining out and active longer than ever.

Simply put, humans are outnumbered. Not only are humans not the majority mammal population on Admiralty, Baranof, and Chichagof islands — they’re not even in the running.

Fish & Game management biologist Steve Bethune reported on local wildlife populations to the Sitka Advisory Committee in November.

He gave numbers for Sitka black-tailed deer that are just staggering.

“Our population objective for Game Management Unit 4 is 125,000 deer — unit-wide — and I’m fully confident we’re above that number,” he told the committee.

Could he be more specific? Someone on the committee asked. Bethune gave it his best shot.

“This is a real scientific estimate,” he said. “Yeah… lots.”

Game Management Unit 4 — or GMU4 — is nicknamed the “ABC Islands.” That’s for Admiralty, Baranof, and Chichagof. Sitka has the largest concentration of humans on the ABC’s, with a total population of something just over 11,000. So deer outnumber humans in the unit by a factor of about 12.

Bethune attributes the boom in deer population to mild winters since the “Snowpocalypse” of 2007-8. But in biological terms, huge deer numbers are not necessarily a great thing.

“We have a lot of deer on the landscape right now,” Bethune said. “We’re probably reaching — or exceeding — carrying capacity in some places. You just see the vegetation hammered in some watersheds.”

Has the boom been a boon to hunters? Not so much, it turns out. The maximum harvest level for the unit established by the Board of Game is 11,000 deer, which Bethune thinks is unrealistic. Still, area hunters are only expected to take about 5,000 deer this season — which is pretty average.

Bethune says mild winters give deer the advantage over some of our conventional, island hunting tactics.

“If I had to speculate, I would say it’s because we’ve had such a lack of snow the last couple of years that the deer aren’t getting driven down to the beaches,” said Bethune. “And so even though there are a lot of deer, you actually have to get out of your boat and walk around the woods.”

But there aren’t just deer walking around those woods. The ABC Islands are home to some of the planet’s highest densities of brown bear. Although the last formal study of brown bear population in the Unit was in 2002, biologists update the number annually using a variety of tools. Bethune says it now stands at 4,300 brown bear — and it seems there were more than a few of them roaming around town this fall.

“We had a pretty significant blip in bear activity in the Sitka area in mid- to late-October,” Bethune said. “It seems like it’s on the downhill slide right now. I’ve been watching it and keeping my fingers crossed. Those bears should be going into the dens anytime soon, if not already.”

That magical day when Sitka is bear-free for the winter still hasn’t arrived. The two weeks before Thanksgiving saw a number of bear incidents — some chicken coops robbed, and even a dog killed in the Indian River neighborhood. Bethune says it’s likely not so much the extended mild temperatures that have kept bears active, but the abundance of food — in the wild and in town. There were no dangerous encounters with residents however, and Bethune is glad that none of the bears had to be destroyed. Nevertheless, as winter arrives in Southeast, he cautions residents that bears can be seen any time of year.

One other species is booming: Mountain goats. Bethune estimates that there are almost 2,000 of the elusive, alpine-dwellers on Baranof Island now — a record high since their introduction in 1923. Unlike deer, however, mountain goats are not exceeding carrying capacity. In fact, their range is expanding in unexpected ways.

“And I am starting to get reports of goats in weird places,” said Bethune, “which indicates to me that young billies are branching out and looking for new habitat. We had a goat wandering around on the shores of Redoubt Lake this summer. We had a goat on Green Lake Road this fall. We had some campers at the Allan Point Cabin on Halleck Island report a mountain goat — and I believe it was a credible report — on the beach. They stepped out on the porch of the cabin, and there was a goat.”

Bethune offered no insight on what may have inspired the mountain goat to swim to Halleck Island — or how an animal at home on the highest, steepest, most desolate ice fields in Southeast Alaska even learned to swim."


Gerald
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Old 12-04-2019, 09:54 AM
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Be a great place to visit.


In the summer of course.
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Old 12-04-2019, 09:57 AM
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So with more deer...Bigfoot populations should be on the increase too!
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Old 12-04-2019, 09:58 AM
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Send in the deer hunting dogs..chase 'em out for automated slaughter!
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Old 12-04-2019, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by YeOldeStonecat View Post
So with more deer...Bigfoot populations should be on the increase too!
We ain't got no Bigfoot's...
Gerald
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Old 12-04-2019, 10:00 AM
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How many deer can you take each season?
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Old 12-04-2019, 10:01 AM
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And thankfully, no deer hunting with dogs.
Gerald
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Old 12-04-2019, 10:02 AM
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Sounds like some hunting is in order? Interesting article. Thanks for sharing. Here is a related article. I guess the narrative that polar bears are suffering and in danger of extinction is not exactly accurate with this "reserve" of bears on the ABC's that are genetically more similar to polar bears than Browns. https://news.ucsc.edu/2013/03/polar-bear-genomics.html
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Old 12-04-2019, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by somethingfishy View Post
How many deer can you take each season?
If you qualify for subsistence ( which I do ) the season runs from August first to the end of January with a six deer limit, for all others the season is August first to the end of December and a four deer limit.
Gerald
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Old 12-04-2019, 10:15 AM
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Originally Posted by 1blueheron View Post
Sounds like some hunting is in order? Interesting article. Thanks for sharing. Here is a related article. I guess the narrative that polar bears are suffering and in danger of extinction is not exactly accurate with this "reserve" of bears on the ABC's that are genetically more similar to polar bears than Browns. https://news.ucsc.edu/2013/03/polar-bear-genomics.html
The brown because it's isolated on the Islands has less genetic mixing then it's grizzly counterpart ( that lives on the mainland ) and is closer to matching the DNA of a polar bear, there are documented cases of grizzlies and polar bears breeding.
It's interesting that a polar bear is 100% carnivore, a grizzly can survive as a herbivore.
Gerald
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Old 12-04-2019, 10:56 AM
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There are a lot of people from other states who dream of an Alaska big game hunt. The hunts can be very expensive when you consider that guides are required for non-residents. Too expensive for many. If more animal harvests are needed to maintain balance, maybe the state could do something about it.
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Old 12-04-2019, 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Paul Barnard View Post
There are a lot of people from other states who dream of an Alaska big game hunt. The hunts can be very expensive when you consider that guides are required for non-residents. Too expensive for many. If more animal harvests are needed to maintain balance, maybe the state could do something about it.
The problem with that is it's likely that big game hunting has added to the problem... The highest mortality on young bears is from large bears (large males are responsible for teaching etiquette to the small bears ) and trophy hunting primarily targets the large bears leaving the young ones unmolested and uneducated due to a reduction in large bears, the average population is getting younger. ( Rescue mission to bear hunt... )
Gerald
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Old 12-04-2019, 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by commuter boats View Post
The problem with that is it's likely that big game hunting has added to the problem... The highest mortality on young bears is from large bears (large males are responsible for teaching etiquette to the small bears ) and trophy hunting primarily targets the large bears leaving the young ones unmolested and uneducated due to a reduction in large bears, the average population is getting younger. ( Rescue mission to bear hunt... )
Gerald
And there is today’s lesson on society folks.
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Old 12-04-2019, 02:41 PM
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Gerald since your overpopulated with brown bears can you take some white spray paint and tag one with THT and take some pics?


I can’t even imagine how drunk that Russian was who spray painted that polar bear. I would love to see video of the planingmeeting with his buddies.
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Old 12-04-2019, 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted by commuter boats View Post
We ain't got no Bigfoot's...
Gerald
Well since you've had warmer weather I guess the abominable snow man prolly relocated , so look out for bigfoot. Hide the jerky
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Old 12-04-2019, 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by bjm9818 View Post
Gerald since your overpopulated with brown bears can you take some white spray paint and tag one with THT and take some pics?


I can’t even imagine how drunk that Russian was who spray painted that polar bear. I would love to see video of the planingmeeting with his buddies.
No, I have been close to a lot of them but I'm not going there.







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Old 12-04-2019, 03:41 PM
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Just spent 8 days on POW. Saw 5 deer total. Wolves were thick. Send some south G!
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Old 12-04-2019, 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by commuter boats View Post
No, I have been close to a lot of them but I'm not going there.







Gerald
Wow
That one in pic # 2 would have scared me the most.
How would they react if you caught "their fish" ?
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Old 12-04-2019, 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Classic25 View Post
Just spent 8 days on POW. Saw 5 deer total. Wolves were thick. Send some south G!
Somewhere around 30 years ago the wolves almost wiped them out on Kuiu island and they've come back, we don't have wolves on the ABC islands so it's primarily winters the control the population. If we have a bad winter, if we get get a normal snow year we will lose a large percentage of the population.
Hunting pressure is controlling the deer population around Hoonah (Northern Chichagof Island) and they've limited the taking of does up there.
We had a bad winter somewhere around 67 and went for a boat ride. We looked at about 30 miles of beach and counted over 120 dead deer on the beach, there'd be three dead ones within sight on the beach and one laying down the could still hold up its head up and there would be half a dozen Eagles standing around it.
With our present overpopulation problem, they are eating their January and February food in December, the berry bushes (which isn't the best food for them but it does stick up above the snow ) are completely stripped in December.
If we do get a real winter I'll follow up him with some photos in January - February.
Gerald
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Old 12-04-2019, 05:33 PM
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Something tells me nature will figure it out as long as we humans don't interfere. My guess is we humans will interfere and screw it up somehow.
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