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5 AAC 92.124. Intensive Management Plans VIII

(a) Plans established. Intensive management plans for the following areas are established in this section:

(1) Unit 21 (E) Predation Control Area;

(2) Unit 24 (B) Predation Control Area.

(b) Unit 21(E) Predation Control Area. The Unit 21(E) Predation Control Area is established in Unit 21(E), encompassing approximately 7,993 square miles; this predation control program does not apply within National Park Service or National Wildlife Refuge lands unless approved by the federal agencies; notwithstanding any other provision in this title, and based on the following information contained in this section, the commissioner or the commissioner's designee may conduct a wolf and black bear and brown bear population reduction or a wolf and black bear and brown bear population regulation program in Unit 21(E) to benefit moose:

(1) the following Wolf and Bear Control Focus Areas are established in the Unit 21(E) Predation Control Area; the areas do not delineate a moose, wolf, or bear population and are not intended to distinguish animals within the areas from populations in Unit 21(E); the purpose is to focus wolf and bear control in a relatively small area where moose numbers can be better estimated, where moose are accessible to hunters, and where harvest can be closely monitored;

(A) the Wolf Control Focus Area (WCFA) encompasses approximately 4,126 square miles within Unit 21(E) within the area south of 63・/CS> 06.00' N. lat., north of 61・/CS> 54.00' N. lat., and easterly of a line starting at 62・/CS> 08.00' N. lat., 160・/CS> 35.00' W. long., then north to 62・/CS> 44.00' N. lat., 160・/CS> 35.00' W. long., then east to 62・/CS> 44.00' N. lat., 160・/CS> 10.00' W. long., then north to 62・/CS> 56.00' N. lat., 160・/CS> 10.00' W. long., then east to 62・/CS> 56.00' N. lat., 160・/CS> 05.00' W. long., then north to 63・/CS> 00.00' N. lat., 160・/CS> 05.00' W. long., then east to 63・/CS> 00.00' N. lat., 160・/CS> 00.00' W. long., then north to 63・/CS> 02.00' N. lat., 160・/CS> 00.00' W. long., then east to 62・/CS> 02.00' N. lat., 159・/CS> 55.00' W. long., then north to 63・/CS> 06.00' N. lat., 159・/CS> 55.00' W. long.; wolf control will be conducted only within the WCFA; the department has the discretion to adjust the area's size and shape to include up to approximately 4,500 square miles of Unit 21(E);

(B) the Black Bear and Brown Bear Control Focus Area (BCFA) encompasses approximately 556 square miles consisting of those portions of the Yukon River drainage within the area starting at 62・/CS> 08.00' N. lat., 159・/CS> 25.00' W. long., then west to 62・/CS> 08.00' N. lat., 159・/CS> 45.00' W. long., then north to 62・/CS> 14.00' N. lat., 159・/CS> 45.00' W. long., then west to 62・/CS> 14.00' N. lat., 160・/CS> 00.00' W. long., then north to 62・/CS> 22.00' N. lat., 160・/CS> 00.00' W. long., then west to 62・/CS> 22.00' N. lat., 160・/CS> 05.00' W. long., then north to 62・/CS> 28.00' N. lat., 160・/CS> 05.00' W. long., then west to 62・/CS> 28.00' N. lat., 160・/CS> 10.00' W. long., then north to 62・/CS> 36.00' N. lat., 160・/CS> 10.00' W. long., then east to 62・/CS> 36.00' N. lat., 159・/CS> 30.00' W. long., then south to 62・/CS> 16.00' N. lat., 159・/CS> 30.00' W. long., then east to 62・/CS> 16.00' N. lat., 159・/CS> 25.00' W. long., then south to 62・/CS> 08.00' N. lat., 159・/CS> 25.00' W. long.; bear control will be conducted only within the BCFA; the department has the discretion to adjust the area's size and shape up to approximately 800 square miles of Unit 21(E); the BCFA is entirely within the WCFA;

(2) this is a continuing control program that was first authorized by the board in 2010 for wolf control; it is currently designed to increase moose numbers and harvest in the WCFA and BCFA by reducing predation on moose and is expected to make a contribution to achieving the intensive management (IM) objectives in Unit 21(E);

(3) moose, wolf, black bear, and brown bear objectives are as follows:

(A) the moose IM population objective established by the board for Unit 21(E) is 9,000 - 11,000 moose; the IM harvest objective for Unit 21(E) is 550 - 1,100 moose annually;

(B) the density objective for moose in the WCFA is 1.0 per square mile (corrected for sightability) during late winter surveys; the annual moose harvest objective for the WCFA is 165;

(C) the wolf control objective in the WCFA is to reduce wolf numbers by at least 60 - 80 percent; the pre-control estimate within the WCFA is 80 wolves; the pre-control wolf population in Unit 21(E) is estimated at 150; a minimum of 30 wolves post-control in Unit 21(E) will ensure that wolves persist in Unit 21(E);

(D) the black bear control objective in the BCFA is to reduce black bear numbers to the lowest level possible; the pre-control black bear population in Unit 21(E) is estimated at 1,900 - 2,275; the pre-control estimate within the BCFA is 130-160; because the BCFA is a relatively small geographic area, removing black bears from within it will have only a minor effect on the black bear population in Unit 21(E);

(E) the brown bear control objective in the BCFA is to reduce brown bear numbers to the lowest level possible; the pre-control brown bear population in Unit 21(E) is estimated at 100 - 200; the pre-control estimate within the BCFA is 10 - 15; because the BCFA is a relatively small geographic area, removing brown bears from within it will have only a minor effect on the brown bear population in Unit 21(E);

(4) board findings concerning populations and human use are as follows:

(A) a proactive approach is needed to allow for a timely response to a decline in the Unit 21(E) moose population if IM population and harvest objectives have not been met;

(B) predation by wolves and bears is an important cause of failure to achieve population or harvest objectives;

(C) a reduction of wolf and bear predation within the WCFA and BCFA can reasonably be expected to make progress towards achieving the Unit 21(E) IM objectives;

(D) reducing predation is likely to be effective and feasible using recognized and prudent active management techniques and based on scientific information;

(E) reducing predation is likely to be effective given land ownership patterns;

(5) if the moose density in Unit 21(E) declines to fewer than 1.0 moose per square mile (corrected for sightability) then authorized methods and means are as follows:

(A) hunting and trapping of wolves and hunting of black bears and brown bears by the public in Unit 21(E) during the term of this program may occur as provided in the hunting and trapping regulations set out elsewhere in this title, including use of motorized vehicles;

(B) notwithstanding any other provisions in this title, the commissioner may allow department employees to conduct aerial, land and shoot, or ground-based lethal removal of wolves and black bears and brown bears using state-owned, privately-owned, or chartered equipment, including helicopters, under AS 16.05.783 ;

(C) notwithstanding any other provisions in this title, the commissioner may issue public aerial shooting permits and public land and shoot permits using fixed-wing aircraft as a method of wolf removal under AS 16.05.783 ;

(6) time frame is as follows:

(A) through June 30, 2023, the commissioner may authorize removal of wolves and black bears and brown bears in Unit 21(E);

(B) annually, upon implementation of predation control, the department shall, to the extent practicable, provide to the board a report of program activities conducted during the preceding 12 months, including implementation activities, the status of the moose, wolf and bear populations, and recommendations for changes, if necessary to achieve the objectives of the plan;

(7) the commissioner will review, modify or suspend program activities as follows:

(A) when wolf surveys or accumulated information from department personnel, hunters, trappers, and permittees indicate the need to avoid reducing wolf numbers in Unit 21(E) below 30 wolves;

(B) when the moose density and harvest objectives within the WCFA specified in this subsection are achieved.

(c) Unit 24(B) Predation Control Area: the Unit 24(B) Predation Control Area is established and consists of those portions of the Koyukuk River drainage within Unit 24(B), encompassing approximately 13,523 square miles; this predation control program does not apply to any National Park Service or National Wildlife Refuge lands unless approved by the federal agencies; notwithstanding any other provisions in this title, and based on the following information contained in this subsection, the commissioner or the commissioner's designee may conduct a wolf population reduction or wolf population regulation program in Unit 24(B):

(1) an Upper Koyukuk Management Area (UKMA) is established within the Unit 24(B) Predation Control Area encompassing approximately 1,360 square miles surrounding the villages of Alatna and Allakaket and bounded to the north at 66・/CS> 52' N. lat., to the east at 152・/CS> 10' W. long., to the south at 66・/CS> 10' N. lat., and to the west at 153・/CS> 45' W. long.; the UKMA does not delineate a moose or wolf population and is not intended to distinguish animals within the UKMA from populations in Unit 24(B); the purpose of the UKMA is to focus wolf control in an area where moose are accessible to hunters, rather than spread this effort over the entire game management unit; wolf control will be conducted only within the UKMA; through the department's permitting authorities, the department has the discretion to adjust the area's size and shape to include up to 20 percent (approximately 2,700 square miles) of Unit 24(B) if necessary;

(2) this is an experimental program that will have limited impact on the moose and wolf populations in Unit 24(B); it is designed primarily to reallocate moose from wolves to humans in the UKMA and is expected to make only a small contribution to the intensive management moose harvest objective in Unit 24(B); at the end of the authorized period for removal of wolves, the control program will be terminated;

(3) moose and wolf objectives are as follows:

(A) the moose intensive management objectives established by the board for Unit 24(B) are for a population of 4,000 - 4,500 moose and an annual harvest of 150 - 250 moose;

(B) the moose harvest objective for the UKMA is for an annual harvest of 35 - 40 moose by fall 2017;

(C) the wolf population control objective for Unit 24(B) is 100 - 140 wolves; the pre-control wolf population in Unit 24(B) was estimated in fall 2008 at 202 - 284 wolves; a minimum population of 100 wolves is approximately a 50 percent reduction from the pre-control population and will assure that wolves persist as part of the natural ecosystem in Unit 24(B) and assure continued wolf hunting, trapping, and viewing opportunities;

(D) the wolf control objective in the UKMA is to reduce wolf numbers to the lowest level possible; in fall 2010, the estimated maximum number of wolves in the UKMA was 25 - 60 wolves;

(4) the board's findings concerning populations and human use are as follows:

(A) the Unit 24(B) moose population and harvest objectives have not been achieved based on the following:

(i) in early winter 2010 the observable moose population size in Unit 24(B) was estimated at 1,800 - 3,400 moose (0.13 - 0.25 moose per square mile), based on extrapolation of population estimates from survey areas in the unit, including all or parts of the UKMA, Kanuti National Wildlife Refuge, and Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve; during regulatory years 2008 - 2009 through 2010 - 2011, estimated annual harvest in Unit 24(B) was 82 - 109 moose;

(ii) in early winter 2010, the number of observable moose within the UKMA was estimated at 405 (90 percent confidence interval: plus or minus 96); estimates of annual harvest from the UKMA are not available; however, the division of subsistence household surveys from the villages of Alatna and Allakaket within the UKMA indicated moose harvest during 1997 - 2002 averaged approximately 40 moose per year; the division of wildlife conservation estimated current reported and unreported harvest in Alatna and Allakaket is 15 - 20 moose annually; based on resident testimonials, cost to obtain a moose has increased due to declining moose densities and increasing fuel costs;

(B) predation by bears and wolves is an important cause of the failure to achieve moose population and harvest objectives based on the following:

(i) moose surveys in Unit 24(B) during spring 2008 - 2011 indicated high twinning rates (average 57 percent), thus good body condition; fall composition surveys in Unit 24(B) indicated high productivity, with calf-to-cow ratios averaging 44 calves per 100 cows, but cohort survival was low with yearling bulls averaging 11 per 100 cows; these survey data and a predicted calving rate of 80 percent indicate more calves are lost during summer due primarily to bear predation than winter due primarily to wolf predation;

(ii) studies from Interior Alaska have documented bears as the primary source of neonatal moose mortality, whereas wolves are the primary predator of moose greater than 12 months of age; based on radiocollared adults in Units 24(A) and 24(B) in 2008 - 2009, annual adult mortality is approximately 8 - 10 percent;

(C) a reduction of wolf predation within the UKMA can reasonably be expected to make progress towards achieving the Unit 24(B) intensive management objectives; modeling of the current moose abundance in the UKMA using estimated abundance of 45 - 55 wolves, 75 black bears, 25 brown bears, 405 (plus or minus 96) moose, and a harvest of 20 moose annually, indicated that moose abundance should slowly increase in response to wolf control that increases calf and yearling moose survival; wolf control alone likely will result in a positive response in moose abundance after five winters of control, including reallocation of some surviving moose to harvest;

(D) reducing predation is likely to be effective and feasible utilizing recognized and prudent active management techniques and based on scientific information; based on survey results indicating wolf predation is an important source of mortality, reducing wolves in a small geographic area will likely result in increased moose survival and additional animals available for hunter harvest; harvest data will be collected using harvest ticket or registration permit reports, household surveys, and other reporting mechanisms such as calendars for recording hunting activities; moose population data collection will include abundance, calf-to-cow ratio, and yearling bull-to-cow ratio from population estimation surveys and calf survival and yearling survival from radiocollared moose;

(E) reducing predation is likely to be effective given land ownership patterns; the UKMA was selected based on land ownership status (minimizing federal lands), proximity to traditional moose hunting areas for the villages of Allakaket and Alatna (maximizing inclusion of navigable river corridors), and habitat suitability; within the UKMA, 125 square miles (9.2 percent) is federal land (BLM/USFWS), 576 square miles (42.3 percent) is Alaska Native corporation land, 659 square miles (48.4 percent) is state lands;

(5) the permissible authorized methods and means used to take wolves are as follows:

(A) hunting and trapping of wolves by the public in Unit 24(B) during the term of this program may occur as provided in the hunting and trapping regulations set out elsewhere in this title, including use of motorized vehicles as provided in 5 AAC 92.080;

(B) notwithstanding any other provisions in this title, the commissioner may allow department employees to conduct aerial, land and shoot, or ground-based lethal removal of wolves using state-owned, privately-owned, or chartered equipment, including helicopters, under AS 16.05.783 ;

(C) notwithstanding any other provisions in this title, the commissioner may issue public aerial shooting permits or public land and shoot permits using fixed-wing aircraft as a method of wolf removal under AS 16.05.783 ;

(6) the anticipated time frame and schedule for update and reevalutation are as follows:

(A) through June 30, 2018, the commissioner may authorize removal of wolves in Unit 24(B);

(B) annually, the department shall, to the extent practicable, provide to the board a report of program activities conducted during the preceding 12 months, including implementation activities, the status of the moose and wolf populations, and recommendations for changes, if necessary to achieve the objectives of the plan;

(7) the commissioner will review, modify, or suspend program activities when the wolf surveys or accumulated information from department personnel, hunters, trappers, and permittees indicate the need to avoid reducing wolf numbers in Unit 24(B) below the control objective of 100 wolves specified in this subsection.

History: Eff. 10/1/93, Register 127; am 8/18/95, Register 135; am 7/1/96, Register 138; add'l am 7/1/96, Register 138; am 7/27/97, Register 143; am 2/22/2000, Register 153; am 7/1/2000, Register 154; am 7/19/2000, Register 155; am 1/3/2001, Register 156; am 7/1/2001, Register 158; am 8/22/2001, Register 159; am 7/26/2003, Register 167; am 7/1/2004, Register 170; am 1/1/2005, Register 172; am 7/1/2005, Register 174; am 1/26/2006, Register 177; am 6/24/2006, Register 178; am 9/1/2006, Register 179; am 7/1/2007, Register 182; am 3/21/2008, Register 186; am 5/20/2008, Register 186; am 5/21/2009, Register 190; am 7/1/2009, Register 190; am 5/16/2010, Register 194; am 7/1/2010, Register 194; add'l am 7/1/2010, Register 194; am 12/15/2010, Register 196; am 1/29/2011, Register 197; am 5/14/2011, Register 198; am 7/1/2011, Register 198; am 3/24/2012, Register 201; am 4/1/2012, Register 201; am 7/1/2012, Register 202; am 7/1/2017, Register 222

Authority: AS 16.05.255

AS 16.05.270

AS 16.05.783

Editor's note: As of Register 203 (October 2012), and acting under AS 44.62. 125(b)(6), the regulations attorney made technical revisions to 5 AAC 92, replacing former 5 AAC 92.125 with smaller sections to facilitate printing of the regulations in the Alaska Administrative Code. As part of those revisions, material formerly set out in 5 AAC 92.125(n) and (r) was relocated to 5 AAC 92.124 without substantive change. The history note and authority citation for 5 AAC 92.124 carry forward the history of, and authority for, former 5 AAC 92.125.

5 AAC 92.125. Intensive Management Plans

Deleted.

History: Eff. 10/1/93, Register 127; am 8/18/95, Register 135; am 7/1/96, Register 138; add'l am 7/1/96, Register 138; am 7/27/97, Register 143; am 2/22/2000, Register 153; am 7/1/2000, Register 154; am 7/19/2000, Register 155; am 1/3/2001, Register 156; am 7/1/2001, Register 158; am 8/22/2001, Register 159; am 7/26/2003, Register 167; am 7/1/2004, Register 170; am 1/1/2005, Register 172; am 7/1/2005, Register 174; am 1/26/2006, Register 177; am 6/24/2006, Register 178; am 9/1/2006, Register 179; am 7/1/2007, Register 182; am 3/21/2008, Register 186; am 5/20/2008, Register 186; am 5/21/2009, Register 190; am 7/1/2009, Register 190; am 5/16/2010, Register 194; am 7/1/2010, Register 194; add'l am 7/1/2010, Register 194; am 12/15/2010, Register 196; am 1/29/2011, Register 197; am 5/14/2011, Register 198; am 7/1/2011, Register 198; am 3/24/2012, Register 201; am 4/1/2012, Register 201; am 7/1/2012, Register 202; deleted as of Register 203, October 2012

Editor's note: As of Register 203 (October 2012), and acting under AS 44.62.125 (b)(6), the regulations attorney made technical revisions to 5 AAC 92, replacing former 5 AAC 92.125 with smaller sections to facilitate printing of the regulations in the Alaska Administrative Code. For provisions formerly set out in 5 AAC 92.125, see 5 AAC 92.111 - 5 AAC 92.113, 5 AAC 92.118, and 5 AAC 92.121 - 5 AAC 92.124.

Emergency amendments to 5 AAC 92.125(b) and (d) took effect on March 21, 2008. In making the emergency regulations "permanent", the regulations attorney made technical changes, even though the section's history note did not reflect an amendment. As of Register 203 (October 2012), the content of former 5 AAC 92.125(b) and (d) was transferred to 5 AAC 92.113(b) and 5 AAC 92.122(b) , respectively.

5 AAC 92.126. Non-Intensive Management Predator Control Plans

(a) Non-intensive management plans are established under this section in areas described in this section.

(b) Unit 26(B) Musk Oxen Recovery Area: Notwithstanding any other provisions in this title, and based on the following information contained in this subsection, the commissioner or the commissioner's designee may conduct selective, lethal, brown bear removal to allow recovery of the musk oxen population in Unit 26(B):

(1) the Unit 26(B) Musk Oxen Recovery Area is established and consists of all lands within Unit 26(B); this recovery program does not apply to any National Park Service or National Wildlife Refuge lands unless approved by the federal agencies;

(2) musk oxen and brown bear objectives are as follows:

(A) Unit 26(B) musk oxen are not managed intensively for high levels of human harvest, but are managed to provide hunting opportunities; the population objective is a minimum of 300 musk oxen that are one year old or older during April surveys; achieving this objective will allow re-establishment of a hunting season and also enhance and maintain viewing opportunity; the harvest objective is 3 - 9 musk oxen annually, once the population reaches 300 musk oxen and a harvestable surplus is available;

(B) the brown bear population objective for Unit 26(B) is to maintain the current estimated population of 200 - 320 bears, while annually removing up to 20 brown bears identified as threatening or killing musk oxen; limiting the number of bears that can be removed will assure that brown bears persist as part of the natural ecosystem and will assure continued brown bear hunting and viewing opportunities;

(3) findings of the Board of Game (board) concerning populations and human use are as follows:

(A) the Unit 26(B) musk oxen population and harvest objectives have not been achieved, based on the following:

(i) the musk oxen population size was estimated at 190 musk oxen in April 2011; musk oxen numbers in Unit 26(B) increased during 1990 - 1995 from 122 to 330 musk oxen; some of this increase in population was the result of immigration from Unit 26(C); during the mid-to-late 1990s, numbers stabilized at around 265 - 300 musk oxen through 2003; subsequently, the population declined to 216 musk oxen by 2006, and during 2007 - 2011, the population in Unit 26(B) slightly declined and stabilized at its current, reduced population size;

(ii) the hunting season for musk oxen in Unit 26(B) has been closed since regulatory year 2006 - 2007; the first hunting season in Unit 26(B) was in 1990; during 1990 - 1997, all hunting was by Tier II permit; in regulatory year 1998 - 1999, the board determined that the amount necessary for subsistence was 20 musk oxen in Unit 26(A) and Unit 26(B), west of the Dalton Highway Management Corridor and established a Tier II hunt; the board also determined that the amount necessary for subsistence was four musk oxen in Unit 26(B), east of the Dalton Highway Management Corridor and established a Tier I registration hunt for residents only; a drawing permit hunt was also established for residents only; three permits were issued annually for bull musk oxen in Unit 26(B), east of the Dalton Highway, and the harvest of up to five musk oxen were authorized by the board; beginning in regulatory year 2005 - 2006, permits were not issued for the drawing and Tier I registration hunts, east of the Dalton Highway in Unit 26(B); this was in response to the sharp decline in musk oxen numbers following 2003; however, the Tier II subsistence hunt west of the Dalton Highway remained open until regulatory year 2006 - 2007, when no permits to hunt musk oxen were issued for any of the hunts;

(B) predation by brown bears was identified as a primary source of mortality on musk oxen and is an important cause of the failure to achieve the population and harvest objectives, based on the following:

(i) during 2007 - 2011, brown bear predation was identified as the primary source of mortality; 62 percent of the documented total adult musk oxen mortality (n =73) was attributed to brown bear predation, which accounted for an average of nine adult musk oxen deaths annually; during the same time period, 58 percent of documented calf mortality (n =45) was caused by brown bear predation; this resulted in an annual average of five calves known to be preyed on by brown bears; over the five years, a total of 74 calves were classified as "missing"; their fates were unknown and not included in the above calculations;

(ii) during 2007 - 2011, the habitat appeared capable of supporting a larger musk oxen population; captured musk oxen were generally in good condition, and birth rates were sufficient to provide for population growth, but growth was not realized because of poor survival; concentrations of some trace nutrients in musk oxen body tissues were believed to be suboptimal for survival; an imbalance of trace minerals, particularly low copper and selenium with elevated concentrations of zinc and iron, can negatively affect immune systems and make musk oxen more susceptible to diseases and potentially more vulnerable to predation; thus, it is possible that habitat limitations may have been obscured by high mortality due to predation; controlling predation will help answer this question;

(C) reducing predation can reasonably be expected to aid in achieving the objectives, based on the following:

(i) during 2004 - 2011, the population remained relatively stable at around 200 musk oxen; evidence indicates that the number of yearlings being recruited annually approximately equaled the number of adult musk oxen dying annually; if survival rates of either adult musk oxen or calves increase, then the musk oxen population would be expected to increase; reducing predation on adults and calves should change survival rates of one or both; during 1987 - 1995, the annual rate of increase for the entire population was seven percent; this time period should be representative of what population growth rate Unit 26(B) musk oxen could experience if bear predation is reduced and habitat is not limiting; therefore, in a best case scenario, it would take approximately seven years for the musk oxen population to reach 300 musk oxen;

(ii) when the musk oxen population increases to 300 musk oxen one year old or older during April surveys, a hunt will be established if a harvestable surplus is available;

(D) reducing predation is likely to be effective and feasible using recognized and prudent active management techniques and based on scientific information; selectively removing brown bears to reduce predation is an experimental approach, based on the hypothesis that relatively few individual bears commonly kill musk oxen; brown bear radiotracking data collected during 1991 - 2007 indicated that several radiocollared adult males were responsible for multiple musk oxen predation events in early spring in a given year or over several years; this suggests that targeting individual bears should be effective, especially for reducing the incidence of multiple kills in spring; most of the predation was caused by male bears before the time when females emerge from dens;

(E) reducing predation is likely to be effective given land ownership patterns, based on the following:

(i) most of Unit 26(B) is state land; the land ownership pattern is 69 percent state land, 29 percent federal land, and 2 percent private land; of the 29 percent federal lands, 12 percent is Bureau of Land Management, and these lands are available for bear control; total land available for bear control is 72 - 74 percent of the unit;

(ii) only two of the 8 - 15 total musk oxen groups in Unit 26(B) occasionally occur on federal lands within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge;

(F) reducing predation is in the best interests of subsistence users because no harvest is currently taking place; an increase in the population that results in sustainable harvest will benefit all residents;

(4) permissible methods and means are as follows:

(A) hunting of brown bears by the public in Unit 26(B) during the term of the program may occur as provided in the hunting regulations set out elsewhere in this title; however, hunting will be restricted as necessary to maintain the current estimated population of 200 - 320 bears;

(B) notwithstanding any other provisions in this title, the commissioner may allow agents of the state accompanied by department employees, or department employees, to conduct aerial, land and shoot, or ground-based lethal removal of any sex and age of brown bear using state-owned, privately-owned, or chartered equipment, including helicopters, under AS 16.05.783 ;

(5) the anticipated time frame for update and reevaluation are as follows:

(A) through June 30, 2018, the commissioner may authorize removal of bears in the Unit 26(B) Musk Oxen Recovery Area;

(B) annually the department shall, to the extent practicable, provide to the board a report of program activities conducted during the preceding 12 months, including implementation activities, the status of the musk oxen and brown bear populations, and recommendations for changes, if necessary to achieve the objectives of the plan;

(C) the program will be reviewed and modified or suspended if there is no evidence of improved survival or a detectable increase in the Unit 26(B) musk oxen population after three years of bear removal.

History: Eff. 4/8/2012, Register 202

Authority: AS 16.05.255

AS 16.05.270

AS 16.05.783

5 AAC 92.127. Intensive Management Plans IX

(a) Plans established. Intensive management plans for the following areas are established in this section:

(1) Unit 1(A) Predation Control Area;

(2) Unit 3 Predation Control Area.

(b) Unit 1(A) Predation Control Area:

(1) The Unit 1(A) Predation Control Area consists of Gravina Island (Wildlife Analysis Area - 101); it consists primarily of United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service and State lands and encompasses approximately 248 square kilometers (96 square miles) or approximately 2 percent of the total land area in Unit 1(A); Gravina Island though near Ketchikan is semi-isolated by the Tongass Narrows on the north side, Clarence Strait on the west and south sides, and Nichols Passage along the east side; notwithstanding any other provisions in this title, and based on the following information contained in this section, the commissioner or the commissioner's designee may conduct a wolf population reduction or wolf population regulation program in Unit 1(A);

(2) this is an experimental treatment program to evaluate whether (a) wolf control in a small portion of Unit 1(A) can reallocate a measurable proportion of deer mortality from wolves to humans, (b) whether population estimation techniques for both predators and prey can be refined enough to measure the effectiveness of the intensive management actions, and (c) whether 1 - 2 hired wolf trappers, operating during the established wolf trapping season and using standard trapping techniques, can reduce wolf numbers sufficiently to bring about an increase in the area's deer population; this is an experimental program that will have limited impact on the deer and wolf populations in Unit 1(A), and is expected to make only a small contribution to the intensive management deer harvest objective in Unit 1(A); at the end of the authorized period for removal of wolves, the control program will be terminated;

(3) deer and wolf objectives are as follows:

(A) the deer intensive management objectives established by the board for Unit 1(A) are for a population of 15,000 and an annual harvest of 700 deer;

(B) the deer harvest objective for the Unit 1(A) Predation Control Area is 60;

(C) there are currently no precise estimates for the wolf population in Unit 1(A); population estimates for Unit 1(A) wolves are based on inferences derived from extensive wolf research, including radiotelemetry, conducted on neighboring Prince of Wales Island in Unit 2 during the late 1990s; based on estimates of average wolfpack and home range sizes in Unit 2, and similar wolf research work on Revilla Island located in Unit 1(A) during the early 1980s, we believe the pre-treatment wolf population in Unit 1(A) is approximately 250 (range 125 - 385); the wolf population estimate for the Unit 1(A) Predation Control Area is approximately 12 wolves; a minimum population of 152 wolves in the remainder of Unit 1(A) will assure that wolves persist on a unitwide basis as part of the natural ecosystem in Unit 1(A) and assure continued wolf hunting, trapping, and viewing opportunities;

(D) the wolf control objective for the Unit 1(A) Predation Control Area is to reduce the wolf population by 100 percent; the estimated number of wolves in the predation control area is approximately 8 - 12, during the entire intensive management project attempt to keep Gravina Island free of wolves;

(4) board findings concerning populations and human use are as follows:

(A) the Unit 1(A) deer population and harvest objectives have not been achieved;

(i) precise estimates of the deer population in Unit 1(A) are not available; estimated annual harvest in all of Unit 1(A) is 200 - 300 deer;

(ii) precise estimates of the deer population in the Unit 1(A) Predation Control Area are not available; before 2011, the division of wildlife conservation estimated the Unit 1(A) deer harvest based on a regional questionnaire mailed randomly to 33 percent of deer harvest ticket holders; during 1990 - 2000 the estimated average hunter harvest within the proposed predation control area was 100 deer annually; during 2001 - 2010, the estimated average hunter harvest declined to 20 deer annually; based on resident testimonials, cost to obtain a deer has increased due to declining deer densities and increased fuel costs;

(B) predation by bears and wolves is a potentially important cause of the failure to achieve deer population and harvest objectives; studies from Prince of Wales Island and Heceta Island, both located in Unit 2, have documented black bears as the primary source of neonatal fawn mortality, whereas wolves are the primary predator of yearling and adult deer; based on radio-collared adult female deer in Unit 2 (2003 - 2011), total annual adult female and yearling female deer mortality was 16 percent, of which 3 percent was from black bear predation, 6 percent from wolf predation, and 7 percent other; total annual neonate fawn mortality during the same period was 65 percent, of which 50 percent was by black bear predation, 5 percent wolf predation, and 10 percent other; total annual adult male and yearling male mortality was 38 percent, of which none were killed by bears, 5 percent by wolf predation, and 33 percent other;

(C) a reduction of wolf predation within the Unit 1(A) Predation Control Area can reasonably be expected to make progress towards achieving the Unit 1(A) intensive management objectives; wolf control alone likely will result in a positive response in deer abundance after five winters of control, including reallocation of some surviving deer to harvest;

(D) reducing predation is likely to be effective and feasible utilizing recognized and prudent active management techniques and based on scientific information; reducing wolves in a small geographic area will likely result in increased deer survival and additional animals available for hunter harvest; harvest data will be collected using harvest ticket hunt reports;

(5) authorized methods and means are as follows:

(A) predator control activities will be conducted using department employed or contracted wolf trappers, operating during the established wolf trapping season and using legal trapping techniques;

(B) hunting and trapping of wolves by the public in Unit 1(A) during the term of this program may occur as provided in the hunting and trapping regulations set out elsewhere in this title, including use of motorized vehicles as provided in 5 AAC 92.080;

(6) time frame is as follows:

(A) through June 30, 2019, the commissioner may authorize removal of wolves in the Unit 1(A) Predation Control Area;

(B) annually, the department shall, to the extent practicable, provide to the board a report of program activities conducted during the preceding 12 months, including implementation activities, the status of the deer and wolf populations, and recommendations for changes, if necessary to achieve the objectives of the plan;

(7) the program may be reviewed and possibly suspended if one of the following conditions are met:

(A) if deer abundance is reliably determined to have doubled in the predation control area, control will be suspended;

(B) if deer abundance has not increased significantly relative to the program objective (A) of this paragraph after 5 years the commissioner will reevaluate the program and recommend changes to the board or suspend it;

(C) if indices of wolf abundance indicate that wolf control has been effective (most wolves have consistently been removed from the treatment area each year), but indices of deer abundance have not measurably changed in the treatment area, the program will be reevaluated to determine if there are ways to make it more effective.

(c) Unit 3 Predation Control Area: the Unit 3 Predation Control Area consists of Mitkof Island, Woewodski Island, and the Lindenberg Peninsula on eastern Kupreanof Island in Unit 3; encompassing approximately 648 square miles; notwithstanding any other provisions in this title, and based on the following information contained in this section, the commissioner or the commissioner's designee may conduct a wolf population reduction or wolf population regulation program in Unit 3:

(1) the Unit 3 Predation Control Area consists of Mitkof Island, Woewodski Island, and the Lindenberg Peninsula on eastern Kupreanof Island, including Wildlife Analysis Areas #2007, #2008, #5135, #5136, #5137, and #5138); the wolf reduction area consists primarily of USDA Forest Service federal lands, and encompasses approximately 648 square miles surrounding the community of Petersburg, or approximately 22 percent of the total land area in Unit 3; the Unit 3 Predation Control Area does not delineate a deer or wolf population and is not intended to distinguish animals from within the Predation Control Area from populations in Unit 3; the purpose of the Unit 3 Predation Control Area is to focus wolf control in an area where deer are accessible to hunters; wolf control will be conducted only within the 648 square mile Unit 3 Predation Control Area;

(2) this is an experimental predator control program to evaluate whether (a) wolf control in a small portion of Unit 3 can reallocate a measurable proportion of deer mortality from wolves to humans, (b) whether population estimation techniques for both predators and prey can be refined to measure the effectiveness of the intensive management actions, and (c) whether 1 - 2 hired wolf trappers, operating during the established wolf trapping season and using standard trapping techniques, can reduce wolf numbers sufficiently to bring about an increase in the area's deer population; the predator control program will have limited impact on the deer and wolf populations in Unit 3, and is expected to make only a small contribution to the intensive management deer harvest objective in Unit 3; at the end of the authorized period for removal of wolves, the control program will be terminated;

(3) deer and wolf objectives are as follows:

(A) the deer intensive management objectives established by the Board of Game for Unit 3 are for a population of 15,000 and an annual harvest of 900;

(B) the deer harvest objective for the in Unit 3 Predator Control Area is 250 annually;

(C) there are no precise estimates for the wolf population in Unit 3; population estimates for Unit 3 wolves are based on inferences derived from extensive wolf research conducted on neighboring Prince of Wales Island in Unit 2 during the late 1990s; based on estimates of average wolf pack and home range sizes in Unit 2, we believe the pre-control wolf population in Unit 3 is approximately 250 with a range 125 - 385; the wolf population control objective for Unit 3 is approximately 200 wolves; a minimum population of 200 wolves is approximately a 20 percent reduction from the pre-control population and will assure that wolves persist as part of the natural ecosystem in Unit 3 and assure continued wolf hunting, trapping and viewing opportunities;

(D) the wolf control objective for the Unit 3 Predator Control Area is to reduce the wolf population by 80 percent; the estimated number of wolves in the control area is approximately 60;

(4) Board of Game findings concerning populations and human use are as follows:

(A) the Unit 3 deer population and harvest objectives have not been achieved;

(i) precise estimates of the deer population in Unit 3 are not available; prior to 2011 the division of wildlife conservation estimated the Unit 3 deer harvest based on a regional questionnaire mailed randomly to 33 percent of deer harvest ticket holders; during 1997 - 2006, the estimated hunter harvest in Unit 3 was 840 deer annually; during 2007 - 2010, the estimated hunter harvest in Unit 3 declined to 542 deer annually;

(ii) precise estimates of the deer population in the Unit 3 Predation Control Area are not available; during 1999 - 2006, the estimated hunter harvest was 216 deer annually; during 2008 - 2010, the estimated hunter harvest declined to 86 deer annually; based on resident testimonials, cost to obtain a deer has increased due to declining deer densities and increasing fuel costs;

(B) predation by bears and wolves is a potentially important cause of the failure to achieve deer population and harvest objectives;

(i) we have no quantitative information on deer body condition in Unit 3; hunters report that deer are in excellent condition with large reserves of body fat during the hunting season in October; there is no evidence indicating that deer are nutritionally stressed in Unit 3;

(ii) studies from Prince of Wales Island in Unit 2 have documented black bears as the primary source of neonatal fawn mortality, whereas wolves are the primary predator of yearling and adult deer; no estimates are available for neonatal fawn or annual adult deer mortality rates in Unit 3;

(C) reduction of wolf predation within the Unit 3 Predator Control Area can reasonably be expected to make progress towards achieving the Unit 3 intensive management objectives; deer abundance should slowly increase in response to wolf control that increases yearling and adult deer survival; wolf control alone likely will result in a positive response in deer abundance after five winters of control, including reallocation of some surviving deer to harvest;

(D) reducing predation is likely to be effective and feasible utilizing recognized and prudent active management techniques and based on scientific information; if wolf predation is an important source of mortality, reducing wolves in a small geographic area will likely result in increased deer survival and additional animals available for hunter harvest; harvest data will be collected using harvest ticket hunt reports; deer population data collection will include fecal pellet-group surveys, motion detecting camera trap surveys and aerial surveys of deer in alpine areas to measure changes in deer abundance;

(E) reducing predation is likely to be effective given land ownership patterns, ease of access for conducting predator control, proximity to traditional deer hunting areas for the community of Petersburg, and habitat suitability;

(5) authorized methods and means are as follows:

(A) predator control activities will be conducted using department employed or contracted wolf trappers, operating during the established wolf trapping season and using legal trapping techniques;

(B) hunting and trapping of wolves by the public in Unit 3 during the term of this program may occur as provided in the hunting and trapping regulations set out elsewhere in this title, including use of motorized vehicles as provided in 5 AAC 92.080;

(6) time frame is as follows:

(A) through June 30, 2019, the commissioner may authorize removal of wolves in the Unit 3 Predator Control Area;

(B) annually, the department shall, to the extent practicable, provide to the board a report of program activities conducted during the preceding 12 months, including implementation activities, the status of the deer and wolf populations, and recommendations for changes, if necessary to achieve the objectives of the plan;

(7) the program may be reviewed and possibly suspended if one of the following conditions are met:

(A) if deer abundance is reliably determined to have tripled in the predator control area, control will be suspended;

(B) if deer abundance has not increased significantly relative to the program objective in (A) of this paragraph after 5 years the commissioner will reevaluate the program and recommend changes to the board or suspend it;

(C) if indices of wolf abundance indicate that wolf control has been effective (most wolves have consistently been removed from the predator control area each year), but indices of deer abundance have not measurably changed in the predator control area, the program will be reevaluated;

(D) if the wolf population estimate for the control area reliably falls below the minimum management objective of 10 wolves, predator control activities will be suspended.

History: Eff. 7/1/2013, Register 206

Authority: AS 16.05.255

AS 16.05.270

AS 16.05.783

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Article 6
Possession and Transportation

Section

130. Restrictions to bag limit.

132. Bag limit for brown bears.

135. Transfer of possession.

140. Unlawful possession or transportation of game.

141. Transport, harboring, or release of live Muridae rodents prohibited.

150. Evidence of sex and identity.

151. Destruction of trophy value of game required in specific areas.

160. Marked or tagged game.

165. Sealing of bear skins and skulls.

170. Sealing of marten, fisher, lynx, beaver, otter, wolf, and wolverine.

171. Sealing of horns and antlers.

175. (Repealed).

5 AAC 92.130. Restrictions to bag limit

(a) Unless otherwise provided in 5 AAC 84 - 5 AAC 92, no person may take a species of game in any unit or portion of a unit if that person's total statewide take of that species already equals or exceeds the bag limit for that species in that unit or portion of a unit, except as provided in (d) of this section.

(b) The bag limit specified for a subsistence season for a species and the bag limit set for a general season for the same species are not separate and distinct. This means that a person who has taken the bag limit for a particular species under a subsistence season may not after that take any additional animals of that species under the bag limit specified for a general season.

(c) A bag limit applies to a regulatory year unless another time period is specified in the bag limit.

(d) The bag limit specified for a trapping season for a species and the bag limit set for a hunting season for the same species are separate and distinct. This means that a person who has taken a bag limit for a particular species under a trapping season may take additional animals under the bag limit specified for a hunting season, or vice versa.

(e) A hunter who is under 10 years of age may take big game only under the direct, immediate supervision of a licensed hunter who is at least 18 years of age. The supervising hunter is responsible for ensuring that all legal requirements are met. The big game animal taken will count against the supervising hunter's bag limit. This section does not relieve an individual from complying with big game tag requirements, but does require a supervising hunter to validate the hunter's harvest ticket, or permit, in accordance with 5 AAC 92.010, immediately following the taking of big game under this section.

(f) In Units 1 - 5 and Unit 8, a black or brown bear wounded by a person counts against that person's bag limit for the regulatory year in which the bear is taken. However, in Units 1 - 5 and Unit 8, a brown bear wounded by a person does not count against that person's one bear every four regulatory years bag limit established in 5 AAC 92.132.

(g) In Unit 8, an elk wounded by a person counts against that person's bag limit for the regulatory year in which the elk is taken.

(h) In this section, "wounded" means there is sign of blood or other sign that the animal has been hit by a hunting projectile.

(i) A big game animal, except deer in an area where the bag limit is one, taken under a youth hunt, will count as the bag limit of both the child and the supervising hunter who accompanies the child; only the child may shoot the big game animal, except that the accompanying adult may shoot the animal only to prevent the animal from escaping after having been wounded by the child. The supervising hunter is responsible for ensuring that all legal requirements are met.

(j) Repealed 7/1/2017.

History: Eff. 6/19/86, Register 98; am 8/8/87, Register 103; am 8/20/89, Register 111; am 8/12/90, Register 115; readopt 5/13/93, Register 126; am 7/1/2002, Register 162; am 7/1/2005, Register 174; am 7/1/2006, Register 178; am 7/1/2007, Register 182; add'l am 7/1/2007, Register 182; am 7/1/2011, Register 198; am 7/1/2014, Register 210; am 7/1/2016, Register 218; am 7/1/2017, Register 222; am 7/1/2018, Register 226

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