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Prince William Sound Black Bear Hunters Reminded to Register

Cordova — Hunters in Prince William Sound Game Management Unit 6D are asked to avoid harvesting collared black bears. The bears are part of an Alaska Department of Fish and Game and Chugach National Forest cooperative study that includes tracking the animals to learn more about home ranges, bear movements, and habitat use.

Biologists placed radio telemetry collars on 20 black bears captured and released this summer in the sound. The collars are programmed to detach from the bears after three seasons of data collection. The bears were also fitted with ear tags that may be visible to hunters and wildlife viewers.

Declining black bear harvests in Prince William Sound have led to conservative measures including shorter hunting seasons, a maximum allowable harvest of 200 bears, and managing the hunt by registration permit. Black bear harvests in Unit 6D, which encompasses coastal areas surrounding Whittier, Valdez and Cordova, nearly tripled from the late 1990s to 2007 and have steadily declined since. Records show that harvests in regulatory years 2012 and 2013 fell 25 percent and 47 percent, respectively, below the previous regulatory year. Harvests in 2014 and 2015 continued to decline although not as rapidly.

“This cooperative project is our first step to improve our understanding of the black bear population in Prince William Sound and to make sense of what the harvest data is telling us,” said Cordova Area Biologist Charlotte Westing.

Although it is not illegal to harvest collared bears, the loss of research animals could impede biologists’ efforts to learn more about Unit 6D black bear populations. Hunters who take a collared bear are asked to bring the collar to a department office within 30 days of the kill, at the time the hide and skull are presented for sealing.

The project is ongoing and expected to continue next summer. Hunters are reminded that black bears may be hunted in Prince William Sound Game Management Unit 6D by registration permit (RL065) only. Permits can be obtained online at http://hunt.alaska.gov or in person at some Alaska Department of Fish and Game offices. See the Alaska Hunting Regulations for more details.

Successful hunters must report harvests within five days of taking a black bear. Reports may be made online at http://hunt.alaska.gov, in person at a department office, or by phone at (907) 424-3215. The black bear hunting season in Unit 6D will close by emergency order if the department’s maximum allowable harvest of 200 bears is reached, or once 50 sows are taken.

For more information on black bear hunting in Unit 6, contact Cordova Area Wildlife Biologist Charlotte Westing at (907) 424-3215 or charlotte.westing@alaska.gov.