Letter: State needs to reconsider Kenai brown bear harvest

The unprecedented killing of 69 Kenai brown bears this year is yet another example of Alaska basing management decisions on outdated anti-predator sentiment rather than science. Kenai brown bears are genetically distinct from other Alaskan bears and were listed as a state species of special concern in 1998. The loss of brown bears would throw the Kenai ecosystem off balance and decrease bear viewing opportunities for Alaskans and tourists alike.

Doug Vincent-Lang’s claim that the population of Kenai brown bears has increased significantly, justifying an unregulated hunt that includes bear-baiting, is based on modeling from a completely different population of bears with lower density. The only reliable Kenai brown bear count estimated a population of 624 in 2010. The real reason for increased human-bear encounters is more humans, not more bears.

The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge stepped in just in time to stop the unsustainable killing — this year. But if the state doesn’t reverse course and put a limit on harvest, we’re not going to have brown bears on the Kenai in a decade.

— Kiersten Lippmann