Alaska Announces Closure of Bear Hunts Statewide
(JUNEAU) — For the safety of Alaska’s communities, and especially individuals most vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus, Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Doug Vincent-Lang has directed the Division of Wildlife Conservation to close all black and brown bear hunts statewide for both resident and nonresident hunters, effective now through May 31. This decision will be reevaluated as necessary. All subsistence bear hunts will remain open as a way for residents to have an opportunity to fill freezers and provide for families.
The Department of Fish and Game will work with the Board of Game to identify future options for hunters who are planning to come to Alaska this spring, or for residents who have already made arrangements, but will be unable to hunt as planned. Expect to hear more from the department in the near future, and please be patient with the department as they identify ways to minimize the impacts of this decision.
Alaska’s wild resources are of vital importance to many throughout the state, and we will make sure opportunities to safely, responsibly and sustainably harvest these resources continue.
Yesterday, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game closed non-resident and resident general hunting for brown and black bears through May 31. This was done to reduce non-critical travel in an effort to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus across Alaska.
Upon further consideration, the Department has decided to rescind the resident portion of this closure. The non-resident hunts remain closed. To protect public health, resident hunters participating in spring bear hunts in Alaska are required to abide by all issued health mandates, including social distancing mandates and intrastate travel mandates.
Specific to intrastate travel mandates, all instate travel between communities is prohibited unless travel is necessary to support critical infrastructure, or for critical personal needs. General hunting has not been identified as a critical personal need. As such, all hunting activities, other than subsistence, must conform with the intrastate travel health mandate. ADF&G will be issuing additional details in the coming days regarding the conduct of these hunts in the context of the issued mandates.
The protection of public health is critical at this time. Abide by the issued health mandates. It is our hope to flatten the curve by keeping people hunkered down, and not traveling for non-critical reasons. We will get through this together.
I, like all of you, hope we can get control of this situation and get back to more normal lives. But until then, I ask for your patience and understanding as this situation evolves.
These are unprecedented times and we are taking uncharted steps to protect the well-being of Alaskans. I’d rather err on the side of caution and take a step too far, rather than come up short and cost fellow Alaskans their lives.
Doug Vincent-Lang Commissioner, Alaska Department of Fish and Game