Alaska Predator Consortium
Photo Credit: http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/static/home/about
/management/wildlifemanagement/inten...
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Adaptive Management Plan Alaska Predator Consortium
The Issue:
Wildlife management in the State of Alaska is conducted b...
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Adaptive Management Plan Alaska Predator Consortium
Figure 1. Active predator control areas in the state of Alaska. Repr...
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Adaptive Management Plan Alaska Predator Consortium
also questioned the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s accuracy at...
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Adaptive Management Plan Alaska Predator Consortium
 Re-examine the biological basis of existing predator control progr...
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Adaptive Management Plan Alaska Predator Consortium
Stakeholders/Interested Parties:
Successfully incorporating science-...
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Adaptive Management Plan Alaska Predator Consortium
Communication Goals:
The Alaska Predator Consortium aims motivate st...
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Adaptive Management Plan Alaska Predator Consortium
Materials Needed:
The Alaska Predator Consortium will need funding, ...
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Adaptive Management Plan Alaska Predator Consortium
ASSESS
OBJECTIVE 1 Sustain predator/prey populations
METHODS 1. Expl...
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Adaptive Management Plan Alaska Predator Consortium
ASSESS
OBJECTIVE 2 Maximize economic benefits.
METHODS 1. Conduct a...
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Adaptive Management Plan Alaska Predator Consortium
ASSESS
OBJECTIVE 3 Increase public involvement.
METHODS Creation of...
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Adaptive Management Plan Alaska Predator Consortium
Outcomes and Challenges:
Due to the many uncertainties surrounding ...
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Adaptive Management Plan Alaska Predator Consortium
Goal Objective Implemented
Action(s)
Trigger Possible Next
Steps/Ac...
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Adaptive Management Plan Alaska Predator Consortium
Goal Objective Implemented
Action(s)
Trigger Possible Next
Steps/Ac...
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Adaptive Management Plan Alaska Predator Consortium
Literature Cited:
Alaska Center for the Environment. (2008). Predat...
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Adaptive Management Plan Alaska Predator Consortium
van Ballenberghe, V., Tabot, L.M., Morin, D.J., Havelka, M., Rivals...
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Adaptive Management Plan

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Adaptive Management Plan

  1. 1. Alaska Predator Consortium Photo Credit: http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/static/home/about /management/wildlifemanagement/intensivemanagement/pdfs /predator_management.pdf An Adaptive Management Plan for Alaska's Predator Control Programs
  2. 2. 2 Adaptive Management Plan Alaska Predator Consortium The Issue: Wildlife management in the State of Alaska is conducted by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's [ADFG] Division of Wildlife Conservation, and is directed by the policies and guidelines implemented by the Alaska Board of Game [ABOG] (National Research Council [NRC], 1997). Amongst the most controversial management actions conducted by the ADFG and ABOG are programs designed to suppress wolf and bear populations (1997). These programs are known collectively as predator control programs. The Alaska State Constitution states that natural resources shall be developed for the maximum benefit of the people, and that natural resources such as wildlife "shall be utilized, developed, and maintained on the sustained-yield principle, subject to preferences among beneficial uses" (Alaska State Constitution, Article, 1956). The sustained-yield principle has become a central theme of Alaska’s wildlife management programs, and this particular section of the constitution authorizes the ADFG to carry out predation control in an effort to increase prey populations for human use (Titus, 2007) Predator control programs, which are lethal in nature, have been conducted in the State of Alaska for over three decades (van Ballenberghe, 2006), though the methods have varied considerably from administration to administration (Titus, 2007). These programs are currently underway in six geographic regions in the State of Alaska (Alaska Department of Fish & Game [ADFG], 2011).
  3. 3. 3 Adaptive Management Plan Alaska Predator Consortium Figure 1. Active predator control areas in the state of Alaska. Reprinted from "Intensive Management of Wolves and Ungulates in Alaska" by K. Titus, March 2007, retrieved from http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/static/home/about/management/wildlifemanagement /intensivemanagement/pdfs/refs/titus_wolves_ungulates.pdf According to the ADFG, the predator control programs are designed to reduce predation by wolves and bears in order to increase the populations of moose and caribou (ADFG, 2011). The State of Alaska cites the dependence of rural sustenance livers on moose and caribou as the primary reason for the intensive management of predators (2011). The ADFG also states that predators keep prey populations significantly depressed, and that the habitat is capable of supporting larger populations of moose and caribou than are currently present (2011). Those who oppose Alaska's predator control programs claim that the programs are based on flawed science and are primarily in place due to the influence of the commercial hunting lobby (Alaska Center for the Environment, 2008). Biologists and ecologists have
  4. 4. 4 Adaptive Management Plan Alaska Predator Consortium also questioned the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s accuracy at counting wolf and bear populations, and have argued that the government’s goal for moose and caribou population growth are unreasonably high and unsustainable (2008). Critics further argue that estimates concerning the number of moose and caribou needed by rural Alaskans for sustenance purposes is greatly exaggerated by the government in order to justify increasing the number of wolves and bears killed on an annual basis (Ballenberghe, 2006). Opponents of Alaska's predator control programs believe there needs to be well documented biological support for the continuation of Alaska's predator control programs including evidence that predators kill significant numbers of moose and caribou that would otherwise be available for harvest by sustenance livers and hunters; lower rates of predation facilitate higher harvest of prey animals; habitats can support larger populations of ungulates and can be protected from the presence of these larger populations; and sustainable numbers of wolf and bear populations can be maintained in areas outside population control regions (Boertje, Keech, & Paragi, 2010). Though there is much disagreement and controversy over Alaska's predator control programs, some common ground can be found in areas of the state where so-called 'predator pits' exist. Predator pits are areas where high densities of predators severely deplete prey populations and keep those populations at extremely low levels (Regelin, Valkenburg, & Boertje, 2005). Scientists agree that special management actions are needed in these areas to reduce predation in order for prey populations to recover, however controversy exists as to when -- and how -- it is appropriate for human intervention, and whether the basis of such intervention is based upon factual science or the combined will of commercial hunting interests (2005). Because of this controversy, van Ballenberghe et. al. (2007) have asked the State of Alaska to do the following:
  5. 5. 5 Adaptive Management Plan Alaska Predator Consortium  Re-examine the biological basis of existing predator control programs.  Reevaluate ungulate population objectives in relation to carrying capacity.  Monitor predator reductions with protocols having proper magnitude, duration and geographic extent to demonstrate clear outcomes.  Implement new control programs only within an adaptive management framework and revise existing programs to incorporate adaptive management.  Apply the National Research Council’s recommended standards to existing programs when possible and to all proposed new programs.  Provide additional funding to ensure that adequate data are available on key components of predator-prey-habitat interactions. The aforementioned issues were sent to Governor Frank Murkowski (van Ballenberghe, 2005), and Governor Sarah Palin in 2005 and 2007 respectively. To date there has been little change to Alaska's predator control programs, and Governor Sean Parnell continues to support the decisions made by the Alaska Board of Game (Office of Governor Sean Parnell, 2011). Vision Statement: The Alaska Predator Consortium, a group of environmental organizations, government agency personnel and individuals from within the community, aims to strengthen the application of science-based wildlife management to Alaska’s predator control programs in order to ensure the sustained health and conservation of the Alaskan ecosystem.
  6. 6. 6 Adaptive Management Plan Alaska Predator Consortium Stakeholders/Interested Parties: Successfully incorporating science-based wildlife management into Alaska's predator control programs will require extensive cooperation and collaboration between stakeholders and interested parties of varying backgrounds as identified in Table 1. Table 1 Alaska Predator Consortium Stakeholder and Interested Parties Government Agencies: Office/Position: Alaska Department of Fish & Wildlife Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner Alaska Board of Game Chairman, Vice Chairman Fish & Game Regional Advisory Committees Interior Region Program Coordinator, Southcentral Region Program Coordinator Alaska Department of Economic Development Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner Public Agencies: Office/Position: University of Alaska, Department of Biology and Wildlife Department Chair, Wildlife Program Chair Institute of Arctic Biology Director, Associate Director - Ecology & Wildlife Rural Alaska Subsistence Livers: Office/Position: Western Interior Alaska Subsistence Regional Advisory Council Chairman, Vice Chairman Eastern Interior Alaska Subsistence Regional Advisory Council Chairman, Vice Chairman Southcentral Interior Alaska Subsistence Regional Advisory Council Chairman, Vice Chairman Environmental Groups: Office/Position: Alaska Wildlife Alliance President, Vice President Alaska Center for the Environment President, Vice President Alaska Conservation Alliance Board Chair, Vice Chair Private Groups: Office/Position: Alaska Trophy Hunting and Fishing, LLC President Alaska Professional Hunters Association, Inc. President, Vice President
  7. 7. 7 Adaptive Management Plan Alaska Predator Consortium Communication Goals: The Alaska Predator Consortium aims motivate stakeholders to support the application of science-based wildlife management to Alaska's predator control programs. To keep all stakeholders, interested parties, and members of the public educated and up-to-date on the progress of the Consortium we intend to:  Establish regular monthly meetings that will allow stakeholders and interested parties to interact and share ideas.  Create a monthly newsletter to be used as a quick reference to tasks completed, upcoming tasks, and overall progress made on the project.  Draft issue papers on the known environmental impacts of predator control programs. These papers will be available to the public as well as stakeholders.  Hold quarterly public meetings to discuss progress on the project. Allow citizens to get information on the project, participate in meetings, and become involved in all aspects of the process.  Establish a project website to include member information, history/background of the issue, state and federal legislative actions that may impact the issue, how to get involved, and so on. The website will also allow the public to submit a feedback form and questions online in order to gauge the effectiveness of the information and to determine possible revisions if necessary.  Generate fact sheets, presentations, brochures, outreach video, and press kits for the local public and media that will allow interested persons to learn more about predator control programs and the goals of the project.
  8. 8. 8 Adaptive Management Plan Alaska Predator Consortium Materials Needed: The Alaska Predator Consortium will need funding, studies, and personnel to begin the integration of science-based wildlife management to the state's predator control programs. This will include:  Census estimates for moose, caribou, wolf and black/brown bears populations.  Harvest demand estimates for moose and caribou.  Predation rates for wolves and bears.  Accurate counting methodology for brown/black bears.  Cost-benefit analysis.  Identification of calving grounds for caribou and moose.  Funding (state and federal grants, private donations). Objectives: To begin of project of such scope, it is beneficial to formulate initial objectives, identify how to accomplish those objectives, and prepare a plan to track and monitor progress made towards the completion of each objective. To begin this process, the following tables identify each objective as established by the Alaska Predator Consortium and provides a strategy on how to implement, evaluate, and adjust the methodology used to accomplish each objective as necessary.
  9. 9. 9 Adaptive Management Plan Alaska Predator Consortium ASSESS OBJECTIVE 1 Sustain predator/prey populations METHODS 1. Explore alternative, non-lethal methods of population control (sterilization, relocation, diversionary feeding). 2. Devise accurate counting techniques for black and brown bear populations. 3. Establish protection for known calving grounds. 4. Explore use of controlled fire to increase carrying capacity of moose habitat. PREDICTIONS 1. Wolf populations manageable without use of lethal control methods. 2. Better understanding of the size and scope bear populations. 3. Fertility in female caribou to increase. 4. Moderate to high quality habitat results in earlier breeding and increased reproduction among female moose. MEASURES Predator/prey population numbers UNCERTAINTIES 1. Effectiveness of non-lethal methods of predator management. 2. Wide range and winter hibernation of bears may impact accuracy of count. 3. Impact of 'immigration' of individual caribou from large herds to smaller herds on population counts. 4. The impact of political pressure to achieve quick, short-term results on long-term habitat management. DESIGN 1. Examine previous control experiments (Vancouver Island, BC and Finlayson, Yukon) using non- lethal methods. 2. Gather additional data on bear foraging and population ecology. 3. Examine data from radio-collaring of caribou in the Nelchina, Delta, Ashinik, and Fortymile herds to determine if large scale immigration between herds is occurring. 4. Community outreach and discussion with state and local government officials on the importance of long-term monitoring. IMPLEMENT 1. Control study using non-lethal methods (sterilization, relocation) on wolf populations in Game Management Unit 20A, a 17,000 km2 area. GMU 20A has low ungulate populations and moderate wolf populations. 2. Counts of brown and black bear populations in southeast Alaska (outside current population control areas) will be conducted to devise an accurate counting methodology. 3. Control study using diversionary feeding tactics to protect calving grounds in peak calving season (mid-May to early June) of the Delta caribou herd. This heard is located near a known wolf den. 4. Meetings with state and local government officials will be conducted on a biannual basis to reiterate need for long-term monitoring and to share results. EVALUATE 1. Annual counts of predator and ungulate populations will be conducted over a five year period in control areas. 2. Counts of brown and black bear populations will be conducted annually for a period of three years. This data will then be compared to historical counts to determine viability of counting method. 3. For habitat control experiments, monitoring of populations within altered habitats will occur annually over a 10 to 12 year period. 4. Assessment of diversionary feeding tactics at caribou calving grounds will require periodic population counts during the time when the caribou remain near the wolf den. Additional population counts will be necessary when the caribou return to the calving ground the following year. The population counts will be conducted annually at the calving ground for a period of five years to determine if protection of the calving ground results in a lower mortality rate and increased population size. ADJUST Long-term monitoring of predator/prey populations has been mostly nonexistent. Adjustments will be necessary once sufficient data is collected to evaluate the effectiveness of control measures.
  10. 10. 10 Adaptive Management Plan Alaska Predator Consortium ASSESS OBJECTIVE 2 Maximize economic benefits. METHODS 1. Conduct a cost-benefit analysis. 2. Promote wildlife viewing opportunities. 3. Promote fair-chase hunting practices. 4. Encourage donation of game meat to rural sustenance livers. 5. Encourage education of hunters about need for conservation and sustainability. PREDICTIONS Adjustments to predator control programs will increase recreation/tourism. MEASURES Number of visitors/hunting parties; number of jobs created/lost (hunting sector, tourism sector); personal income levels. UNCERTAINTIES There may be a decline in hunting revenue due to shift to non-lethal predator control measures. DESIGN A cost-benefit analysis will be conducted to determine the economic impact of Alaska's predator control programs. The outreach group will work with stakeholders in developing promotional information to encourage wildlife viewing and fair-chase hunting practices. IMPLEMENT A cost-benefit analysis will be among the first items created due to a lack of understanding of the economic impact of predator controls. Promotional work will begin after the cost-benefit analysis is reviewed by stakeholders and interested parties. EVALUATE Economic data will be collected on an annual basis and compared with previous years to establish what impacts predator control projects have on local and state economies, and where improvements can be made. Analysis should be conducted following peak visitor season (mid-June to mid-August). ADJUST Adjustments in promotion of wildlife viewing and fair-chase hunting practices may be necessary depending on the gains/loss incurred by the tourism and hunting industries.
  11. 11. 11 Adaptive Management Plan Alaska Predator Consortium ASSESS OBJECTIVE 3 Increase public involvement. METHODS Creation of an outreach group that can engage members of the public by communicating the purpose and progress of the project, encouraging individuals to attend and participate in open meetings, and recruit interested members and organizations. PREDICTIONS An effective outreach group can educate the public on the need for a science-based approach to predator controls. Some members of the public, particularly of the hunting lobby, will view any attempts to alter existing control programs in a negative light. MEASURES The frequency of questions, concerns and conflicts, as well as the number of individuals participating in open meetings, can measure the effectiveness of the outreach group. UNCERTAINTIES It is unknown how willing members of the public may be at becoming involved in the process. DESIGN The outreach group will focus on the creation and distribution of presentations, educational/informational documents (flyers, brochures, pamphlets), and advertisements to spread word of the project's purpose and objectives. The use of public meetings, social media and traditional media outlets will assist in garnering public interest and participation. IMPLEMENT The outreach group will conduct ongoing meetings and public engagement over the course of the project. EVALUATE The outreach group will monitor the level of public involvement biannually across all mediums to establish which methods are most effective. ADJUST Certain outreach methods will be more effective than others. Adjustments may be necessary to how the outreach group interacts with individuals and organizations depending on which methods work best.
  12. 12. 12 Adaptive Management Plan Alaska Predator Consortium Outcomes and Challenges: Due to the many uncertainties surrounding Alaska's predator control programs, challenges and unanticipated outcomes are expected to arise as the Alaska Predator Consortium strives to complete the objectives indentified in the above tables. The following tables outlines each initial objective and attempt to identify potential outcomes for each action, possible resolutions, and assessments on the feasibility of suggested actions. Goal Objective Implemented Action(s) Trigger Possible Next Steps/Actions Feasibility of Next Steps/Actions Sustain predator/prey populations Explore alternative, non-lethal methods of predator population control Relocation, sterilization and diversionary feeding tactics Increase or no change to ungulate mortality rates Examine causes for ungulate mortality This requires additional study of the causes of ungulate mortality; funding may be difficult to obtain. Increase in ungulate populations Formal adoption of non-lethal methods in all predator management areas May result in an overall increase in ungulate populations. However, the new techniques may be more costly than previous methods; possible objection from hunting lobby.
  13. 13. 13 Adaptive Management Plan Alaska Predator Consortium Goal Objective Implemented Action(s) Trigger Possible Next Steps/Actions Feasibility of Next Steps/Actions Sustain predator/prey populations Devise accurate counting techniques for black and brown bear populations Population census for brown and black bear populations Decrease/no change from previous estimates using old counting techniques Revert to previous counting techniques Reverting to previous counting methods may save resources and funding Visible increase in population estimates Adopt new counting techniques across all management areas New counting techniques may require additional personnel and resources Establish protection for known calving grounds Diversionary feeding of wolves and bears near calving ground Increase or no change in calving mortality rates Identify causes of calve mortality Will require studies on causes of mortality outside the calving grounds Decrease in calve mortality rates Implement diversionary feeding near all known calving grounds Costs for time and resource may be high Explore use of controlled fire to increase carrying capacity of moose habitat Control burn in known moose territory Increase of moose populations/calve mortality Implement controlled burns across all management areas Habitat management is long term, will require significant time investment from stakeholders Decrease or no change in moose populations/calve mortality Abandon controlled burning as a management option May save funding and resources; possible objections from science and environmental personnel
  14. 14. 14 Adaptive Management Plan Alaska Predator Consortium Goal Objective Implemented Action(s) Trigger Possible Next Steps/Actions Feasibility of Next Steps/Actions Maximize economic benefits Understand economic impact of predator control programs Cost-benefit analysis Decrease in hunting revenues due to adoption of non-lethal predator controls Promotion of fair chase hunting practices Will require additional efforts from outreach group; Possible objections from certain aspects of hunting industry who profit from aerial and gassing practices. Goal Objective Implemented Action(s) Trigger Possible Next Steps/Actions Feasibility of Next Steps/Actions Increase public involvement Educate members of the public on predator controls and involve them in all levels of the decision- making process Creation and implementation of outreach group and practices Lack of public involvement Adjust outreach methods Requires examination of outreach methods by group personnel; may require additional resources to reach target audience
  15. 15. 15 Adaptive Management Plan Alaska Predator Consortium Literature Cited: Alaska Center for the Environment. (2008). Predator control. Retrieved from http://akcenter.org/forests-and-wildlife/chugach/alaskas-wildlife-1/predator-control- 1 Alaska State Constitution. (1956). Article VIII, section IV: Sustained yield. Retrieved from http://www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/folioproxy.asp?url=http://wwwjnu01.legis.state.a k.us/cgi-bin/folioisa.dll/acontxt Boertjie, R.D., Keech, M.A., & Paragi, T.F. (2010). Science and values influencing predator control for Alaska moose management. Journal of Wildlife Management, 74, 917– 928. doi:10.2193/2009-261 National Research Council. (1997). Wolves, bears and their pretty in Alaska: Biological and social challenges in wildlife management. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. Office of Governor Sean Parnell. (2011). Governor hails supreme court ruling on predator control programs. Retrieved from http://gov.alaska.gov/parnell/press-room/ full-press-release.html?pr=5469 Regelin, W.L., Valkenburg, P., & Boertje, R.D. (2005). Management of large predators in Alaska. Wildlife Biology in Practice, 1, 77-85. doi:10.2461/wbp.2005.1.10 Titus, K. (2007). Intensive management of wolves and ungulates in Alaska. Retrieved from http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/static/home/about/management/wildlifemanagement /intensivemanagement/pdfs/refs/titus_wolves_ungulates.pdf van Ballenberghe, V., Klein, D., Haney, J.C., Schoen, J.W., Senner, S.E., Miller, S. … Brown, C. A Letter to Governor Murkowski. Retrieved from http://www.defenders.org/ resources/publications/programs_and_policy/wildlife_conservation/imperiled_species /wolf/alaska_wolf/letter_to_governor_frank_murkowski.pdf
  16. 16. 16 Adaptive Management Plan Alaska Predator Consortium van Ballenberghe, V., Tabot, L.M., Morin, D.J., Havelka, M., Rivals, F., Patterson, B.D. … Rentz, M.S. (2007). A Letter to Governor Palin. Retrieved from http://www.defenders.org/resources/publications/programs_and_policy/ wildlife_conservation/imperiled_species/wolf/alaska_wolf /scientist_and_wildlife_professional_letter_to_ak_gov._palin.pdf van Ballenberghe, V. (2006). Predator control, politics and wildlife conservation in Alaska. ALCES, 42, 1-11. Retrieved from EBSCOhost

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