The isolated population of brown bears on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula is in trouble. Last year, even before state hunting regulations were loosened to allow bear baiting, 69 brown bears were killed legally and another 23 were killed illegally -- reducing the total number of adult female bears by 18 percent.
If these practices continue, such high kill rates could quickly lead to a collapse of the Kenai's brown bear population.
This season's forecast is equally grim: 1,300 permits have already been handed out this spring, with another 700 still available, allowing 2,000 hunters to comb the woods to kill up to 70 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 today -- urge the refuge to close its lands to brown bear hunting once again 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 the state of 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. And just last year alone, 18 percent of the adult female bears were killed. 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.
Please -- act quickly before the Kenai's brown bear population is irreparably harmed. The refuge must close its lands to brown bear hunting this spring in order to fulfill its mission to conserve bear populations and their critical habitat.
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