Bear baiting on federal lands in Southeast may be allowed next year if a proposal by a regional subsistence advisory council is approved. The council also recommended ending a requirement that traps be marked with identifying numbers.
Both practices are already allowed by the state. Mike Bangs, chair of the Southeast Alaska Subsistence Regional Advisory Council, said the council felt it should match hunting and trapping rules with the Alaska Board of Game when those rules are less restrictive.
“It basically just aligned the state’s regulations for bear baiting and they’ve been doing it and it’s been an ongoing thing,” Bangs said. “So it really didn’t change anything except that subsistence hunters can now use bait for bears where it just wasn’t on the books in the federal register.”
In other action, the council rejected a proposal to reduce the number of deer that can be taken under the federal designated hunter program. The program allows a hunter to take deer on behalf of another eligible recipient. Advisory councils in Wrangell and Petersburg alleged that some hunters were abusing the program and taking too many deer.
But the council’s staff wrote that there are no conservation concerns for the deer population. It also said the proposal could add unnecessary restrictions to traditional hunting practices.
“There wasn’t any proof that there had been abuse,” said Bangs. “So we went along with the recommendation to oppose it until we find out more about what the abuse is. It sounded more like a law enforcement problem.”
The regional council’s recommendations are non-binding. They still need to be ratified in April by the statewide Federal Subsistence Board before going into force.