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I am opposed to reducing the Pack Creek brown bear sanctuary on Admiralty Island. Evidence collected over the years indicates that the most secure situation for brown bears is a large tract of land set aside as wilderness or where wilderness has been regained by reducing human use. To prevent further fragmentation of their range, "brown bears habitat must be managed on a landscape scale often exceeding thousands of kilometers, because bear movements are extensive," according to research conducted in the 1990s by biologist John Schoen.
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Allowing a reduction in habitat in the area of the Swan Cove would likely affect individual bears and therefore entire populations by: 1) creating strong, energetic reactions from bears that disrupt their normal behavior; 2) displacing bears from areas of human use; 3) altering habitat where bears live; 4) disrupting the bears' social system; 5) increasing "industrial scale" personnel killings resulting in more hunters, poachers, other resource users and settlers thereby; and 6) ultimately decreasing the brown bear population on Admiralty Island.
All policies for the brown bear management of the Admiralty Island habitat by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and U.S. Forest Service must change from the "Buffalo Robe" mentality of hunting game to bring the management program into the 21st century. A focus for the future should promote new brown bear population studies to verify the total population, size and sex ratio, because 1) controlled kills, accidental kills and natural kills are under estimated; 2) the size of currently harvested bears is smaller than the past; and 3) the value of the brown bear in their habitat for recreational viewing has increased four times more than logging since 1990.
There should be a moratorium placed on brown bear hunting on Admiralty Island with consideration of a permanent "No hunting" of brown bear. This is not a new proposal for Admiralty Island. For a hundred years the protection of the brown bear on the island has been suggested by such important people as Teddy Roosevelt, John Holtzworth, Frank Dufrene, Michael Fromme, Jay Williams, Ralph Young, Karl Lane and many others. Think of the future, and keep brown bears a vital part of Southeast Alaska's legacy.
Clifford D. Lobaugh