Moose are in decline on the Kenai Peninsula, but there's little consensus on why it's happening and what should be done about it. The Alaska Board of Game is meeting in Anchorage this weekend, and a proposal for aerial wolf kills is likely to draw heated testimony, says The Redoubt Reporter.
The first step in addressing moose numbers on the Peninsula is determining why they have declined. Moose calves - and, to a lesser extent, adults - are an important food source for Peninsula predators, primarily black bears, brown bears and wolves. Prior to hunting restrictions put in place in 2011, human hunters have harvested an average of 400 moose a year. And humans are the cause of an average of about 224 more moose deaths each year on the Peninsula in the form of vehicle collisions.
Yet of all these factors causing moose mortalities, habitat is thought to play an even bigger role in sustaining - or not - the population.
Staffing, budgets and time being limited, Fish and Game's data on Peninsula moose is likewise limited, but what data does exist points to signs that poor habitat is negatively impacting the moose population, said Jeff Selinger, area wildlife biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
"We have habitat issues in 15A. Everybody admits we have habitat issues in 15A," he said.