Living with Wildlife in Anchorage:
A Cooperative Planning Effort
MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING
A COMPREHENSIVE WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT PLAN,
Living with Wildlife in Anchorage: A Cooperative Planning Effort
ANCHORAGE, ALASKAamong the
Alaska Department of Fish and Game
Alaska Department of Natural Resources
Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Region 7
Bureau of Land Management
U.S. Army, Fort Richardson
3rd Wing, Elmendorf Air Force Base
and the Municipality of Anchorage
The Municipality of Anchorage is a unique urban and suburban environment containing a diversity of wildlife species. Extensive natural areas in and around the city provide habitat for moose, black bears, brown bears, Dall sheep, wolves, coyotes, lynx, beaver, bald eagles and other raptors, loons, swans and other waterfowl and shorebirds, as well as numerous species of migratory songbirds. Marine mammal species, including beluga whales, are also present in the nearby waters of Cook Inlet. The Anchorage area also offers unique recreational fishing opportunities in an urban environment. Wild and hatchery stocked salmon runs support popular fisheries and viewing opportunities on several area streams.
These distinctive wildlife and fish populations offer outstanding recreational opportunities to Anchorage residents and visitors and contribute to a quality of life in Anchorage that is unparalleled in other large urban areas. Many of these species are also valued as symbols of wild Alaska and almost all Anchorage residents have some appreciation for the wildlife that exist in the area. Wildlife and fish resources are truly an integral part of the Anchorage community.
Unfortunately, the abundant wildlife and large human population lead to numerous human-wildlife conflicts as well. Conflicts include human safety issues (e.g., aggressive encounters with moose and bears, and wildlife-related aircraft and vehicle crashes) and wildlife nuisance complaints (e.g., pets injured or killed by wolves, bears, coyotes, and moose; trees felled by beavers; moose eating ornamentals; and Canada geese on ballfields and lawns).
One challenge of planning for wildlife in the Anchorage area is determining how to minimize the conflicts that are occurring with wildlife while enhancing the opportunities for positive interactions with wildlife. Lethal control of individual problem animals is not acceptable to most Anchorage residents except when human life is threatened.
Maintaining or increasing populations of moose, geese, and bears will likely maintain or increase wildlife nuisance and hazards, while efforts to decrease populations could decrease wildlife viewing and hunting opportunities. To the greatest extent possible, creative solutions for resolving human-wildlife conflicts must be developed for Anchorage's urban environment.
In addition, there is a need to clarify and agree on roles and responsibilities among local agencies and the public in reducing wildlife conflicts, and dealing with those that do occur.
Enhancing the Benefits of Wildlife
Considering the abundant wildlife resource in Anchorage, relatively little has been done to enhance opportunities to enjoy and learn about wildlife. Opportunities to use wildlife through hunting and trapping have been drastically reduced in the Anchorage Bowl due to increased human population and residential developments. At the same time, services, programs and facilities to provide wildlife viewing opportunities and educate the public about wildlife have not been widely developed.
Such programs could help decrease human-wildlife conflicts, increase community stewardship of wildlife and wildlife habitats, and provide substantial economic benefits to the community. Increasing wildlife-related education and recreation opportunities in and near Anchorage could help retain tourists in the city for additional days as well as encourage residents to spend more leisure time within the city. Both would increase money spent for local goods and services.
The key to capitalizing on the economic potential of local fish and wildlife resources is maintaining local habitat for wildlife distributed throughout the Anchorage Bowl. Additional benefits could be realized by increasing natural history interpretation and local tours along Anchorage's extensive trail system. An example of specific programs that could enhance the benefits of wildlife is the proposed Potter Marsh Nature Center. Potter Marsh boardwalk is one of the sites most visited by Alaska's tourists and attracts 30,000-40,000 visitors annually, mostly to view and learn about birds and spawning salmon.
The purpose of this MOU is to:
- Recognize the cooperative planning effort among local government, state and federal agencies, the public and the business community which has resulted in a comprehensive plan for managing wildlife in the Municipality of Anchorage;
- Accept the overall purpose of the comprehensive wildlife plan, to:
- Minimize conflicts between humans and wildlife;
- Maintain and enhance the benefits of wildlife in Anchorage;
- Affirm the intention of the signatories to implement actions recommended in the comprehensive wildlife plan to the greatest extent possible.
Such a cooperative planning effort has many benefits, including enhanced recreational, educational, conservation, and economic opportunities. This agreement will enhance continuing efforts of public agencies and private organizations to conserve wildlife and fish resources in Anchorage while seeking to reduce human-wildlife conflicts.
This MOU is made and entered into by and among the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G); Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation (PARKS); U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Region 7 (FWS); Bureau of Land Management (BLM); USDA Forest Service, Chugach National Forest (USFS), U.S. Army, Fort Richardson (Army), 3rd Wing, Elmendorf Air Force Base (Air Force); and the Municipality of Anchorage (MOA) under provisions of:
- ADF&G: A.S. 16.05.050(13)
- Parks: A.S. 41.21.010-.020 and A.S. 38.05.295
- Army and Air Force: Sikes Act, as amended 1998, 16 U.S.C. ## 670a-670f (1988).
- BLM: Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, 43 U.S.C. # 1701-1782 (1988); an Act approved October 24, 1984, Pub. L. No. 98-540, 98 Stat. 2718; MOU between ADF&G and U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management, for cooperative management of fish and wildlife resources, 8/22/83; 16 U.S.C. 679 et. seq., and BLM/ADF&G Sikes Act Agreement, 5/25/76.
- FWS: Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956, 16 U.S.C. # 460k-2 (1988); Fish and Wildlife conservation Act of 1980, 16 U.S. C. ## 2901 et seq (1988); and Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, 16 U.S.C. # 661 (1988);
- MOA: A.M.C. Title 7.
The parties to this agreement have responsibilities or interests in conserving wildlife and their habitats and in addressing wildlife-human conflicts within the geographic area defined by the boundaries of the Municipality of Anchorage. The parties agree that increased efforts should be made to improve coordination of wildlife conservation and management. The parties further recognize and agree that a cooperative approach should be followed whenever practical.
The ADF&G represents the wildlife agency with the lead responsibility for conserving and managing wildlife and providing for public use statewide. In this role, ADF&G will initiate and assist development of this partnership to enhance the conservation and management of wildlife and fish resources within the Municipality of Anchorage.
The participating municipal, state, and federal agencies have a variety of responsibilities in managing their diverse lands and programs. Among some of these are the responsibilities to provide wildlife-associated recreation opportunities, and to ensure and manage the abundance and diversity of wildlife and their habitats. Even though these agencies have different mandates and policies, many opportunities exist to enhance wildlife conservation and management, and the social and environmental benefits related to wildlife resources.
Local advisory groups, community councils, visitor and tourism based businesses and other private organizations and individuals have an interest in the conservation of wildlife resources, and strategies for addressing conflicts between humans and wildlife within Anchorage. These entities therefore have participated with cooperating municipal, state and federal agencies and other public organizations by assisting in the development and implementation of the Comprehensive Wildlife Management Plan to address wildlife issues within Anchorage.
In summary, it is the mutual belief of the signatories that implementation of this MOU will help to achieve the following goal and related objectives:
Goal: Conserve and enhance a wide diversity of fish, wildlife and their habitats throughout the Municipality of Anchorage that live in harmony with the community.
Objective 1 Identify and conserve biologically and socially optimal population levels of native wildlife and their habitats in the Municipality of Anchorage (MOA).
Objective 2 Identify and conserve wild and natural fish populations and their habitats in the MOA.
Objective 3 Maximize positive interactions with fish and wildlife and minimize conflicts between people and their pets and fish and wildlife in the MOA.
Objective 4 Promote the economic, social and other benefits related to fish, wildlife and their habitats in the MOA.
Objective 5 Foster a sense of stewardship for fish, wildlife and their habitats among the public, organizations and agencies within the MOA.
Objective 6 Integrate fish, wildlife, habitat and corridor issues into land use planning and decision-making within the MOA.
V. It Is Mutually Agreed and Understood by and Between the Said Parties that:
- Each public agency will adopt by this Memorandum of Understanding the goals, objectives, strategies, and actions identified in the Comprehensive Wildlife Management Plan subject to applicable laws, regulations, policies, and land use and activity plans for the affected area, and subject to approval by an authorized official of the agency administering the area involved.
- Participating agencies will assume joint responsibility for implementing the Comprehensive Wildlife Management Plan, with each agency taking lead responsibility on lands they manage or control.
- Any party may provide leadership for implementation and monitoring of the Plan developed pursuant to this agreement and supplemental to this agreement.
- Nothing in this agreement will be construed as obligating the participating parties to expend, or involve the United States, the State of Alaska, the Municipality of Anchorage, or any other party in any obligation for future payment of money, except for appropriations authorized by law and administratively allocated for these purposes.
- The federal government's liability will be governed by the provisions of the Federal Tort Claims Act (28 U.S.C. 2671-80).
- This agreement may be revised as necessary, by mutual consent of all parties, and by issuance of a written amendment signed and dated by all parties.
- Any party may terminate participation under this agreement by providing 30 days written notice to all other parties. Unless terminated by written notice of all parties, this agreement will remain in force indefinitely, subject to a 5-year review.
- Each party agrees that it will be responsible for its own acts and the results thereof and each party shall not be responsible for the acts of the other party; and each party agrees it will assume to itself risk and liability resulting in any manner under this agreement.
- Each party will comply with all applicable laws, regulations, and executive orders.
- Nothing herein is intended to conflict with federal, state, or local laws or regulations. If there are conflicts, this agreement will be amended at the first opportunity to bring it into conformance with conflicting laws or regulations.
VI. Approval and Effective Date
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, THE PARTIES HERETO HAVE EXECUTED THIS AGREEMENT AS OF THE DATE LAST WRITTEN BELOW.
|Frank Rue||Alaska Department of Fish and Game||11/30/99|
|Allen H. Meiners||Alaska Department of Natural Resources
Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation
|David B. Allen||U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 7||8/19/99|
|Nick Douglas||Bureau of Land Management||4/3/00|
|Lt. Col. Edward W. Snead||U.S. Army, Fort Richardson||1/5/00|
|Col. Douglas M. Fraser||3rd Wing, Elmendorf Air Force Base||3/28/00|
|Note: The Municipality of Anchorage has indicated they will sign this Memorandum of Agreement following approval of Anchorage 2020: Anchorage Bowl Comprehensive Plan.|