The isolated population of brown bears on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula is in trouble. Just last year alone, 18 percent of the adult female bears were killed. And this year, during the spring hunt, an additional 10 percent of the population was taken out.
In a matter of years, such high kill rates could quickly lead to a collapse of the Kenai brown bears' population. Adding to the concern, a major human-started fire burned across more than 300 square miles of the Kenai this spring. It tore through the refuge, stressed and even killed spring cubs and sows, and drove bears into contact with humans, which could prove lethal for the bears.
The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge took a stand last year to protect this rare and distinct subspecies of Ursus arctos by ending its hunting season early.
Take action below -- urge the refuge to close its lands to brown bear hunting once more to give these bears a fighting chance at survival in their ancestral home.
I am writing to urge you to issue an immediate emergency closure of Kenai National Wildlife Refuge lands to brown bear hunting. I applaud the refuge for its many attempts to engage with the state of Alaska over management of Kenai brown bear, and for banning bear baiting. But enough is enough: Refuge lands are specifically for conserving brown bear populations, and Alaska's management practices continue to work against those aims.
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The Kenai brown bear population is small and highly sensitive to adult female mortality. Last year alone 18 percent of the adult female bears were killed. And this year, during the spring hunt, an additional 10 percent of the population was shot. The state of Alaska has made it clear that its goal is a drastic reduction in the bears' populations to increase moose numbers for the benefit of human hunters.
We can't let this happen. Due to the high number of bears already killed this spring, the refuge must close its lands to brown bear hunting this fall to fulfill its mission to conserve bear populations and their critical habitat. The Funny River fire was an additional stressor, and likely most severely affected young cubs and their mothers, who are critical to the population's long-term survival.
Please -- give the bears a break and close refuge lands to bear hunting this fall.
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