Anchorage Bear Committee
5 Year Charter
An estimated 250 black bears and 55-65 brown bears live in the Anchorage area (between the Knik River and Portage), including Chugach State Park. Interactions of people and bears in Anchorage can be both beneficial and problematic. The Anchorage Bear Committee (ABC) was organized on March 13, 2002, and met 13 times during its 18-month charter.
During its initial charter period, the ABC implemented many bear-related recommendations outlined in the Living with Wildlife in Anchorage plan. The committee also examined additional issues concerning bears within the municipality and developed actions to help resolve those issues. The purpose of this revised charter is to guide the ABC in continuing actions. While the group will continue to develop short-term goals, its guiding purpose for the next five years is to maintain and support actions and goals developed during the initial phase. This charter will inform the ABC until December 31, 2009, unless it is revised.
Anchorage is a city with abundant wildlife, including hundreds of moose and both black and brown bears - animals that no other cities of 260,000 people can boast.
Wildlife offers outstanding recreational opportunities to Anchorage residents and visitors, contributing to a unique quality of life unmatched in urban areas across the nation. Many species are valued as symbols of wild Alaska, and most Anchorage residents have some appreciation for the wildlife that live here. However, as Anchorage continues to grow, interactions between wildlife and people are also increasing. Problems arise when black and brown bears are attracted to food sources easily obtained around human establishments. Bears frequenting neighborhoods for food are often perceived as risks to people or their pets and are sometimes killed by residents or authorities.
Wildlife managers in Anchorage strive to enhance the benefits of having wildlife in the city, while minimizing human-wildlife conflicts. However, this can be challenging. Urban settings provide uneven patterns of land use and wildlife habitat, and the actions of different landowners, government agencies, and the public may have profound effects on wildlife populations and behavior. Opinions among urban residents about how people should live with wildlife are diverse. Expansion of human development results in changes in wildlife habitat and species composition; the challenge is to manage the change so that both people and wildlife benefit.
The Living with Wildlife in Anchorage plan was the first step in trying to meet this challenge. The plan coordinates and integrates decisions by local, state, and federal government. The plan outlines general wildlife management goals for the municipality, and then identifies actions and policies that will help Anchorage residents enjoy wildlife and minimize potential conflicts.
The purpose of the ABC is to: 1) develop and implement strategies directed at bear conservation and management issues in Anchorage, and 2) implement the stakeholder recommendations contained in the Living with Wildlife in Anchorage plan pertaining to black and brown bears.
The objective of the ABC is to implement, to the extent possible, the recommendations regarding bears contained in the Living with Wildlife in Anchorage plan and any additional actions the group agrees are needed to conserve and manage bears in Anchorage.
Expected Outcomes and Products
The ABC is expected to develop bear conservation and management strategies to address bear conflict problems detailed in the Living with Wildlife in Anchorage plan. The ABC will use a consensus-building process to reach decisions. Consensus is defined as an agreement reached by identifying the interests of all of the concerned parties and then building a cooperative solution that maximizes the satisfaction of as many of the interests as possible. Each member enters the process with the intention of working cooperatively with other committee members to reach consensus decisions on actions supporting the conservation and management of Anchorage bears. In some cases complete consensus may not be possible. In these cases, committee members will document the points of disagreement in a minority report. However, it is expected that the facilitator and committee members will work diligently to reach consensus on even the most difficult issues.
The key to success in this project is building a partnership of those interests that reflect local, state, and national concerns and that have a stake in Anchorage bear management and conservation programs and public safety.
Each ABC member is responsible for communicating with his or her agency throughout the process. In addition, ABC members will be encouraged to participate in bear-related community outreach efforts coordinated by ADF&G and other participating agencies.
Resources & Constraints
Several Fish and Game staff members will provide professional support and assistance to the ABC as it develops an implementation strategy for recommendations included in the Living with Wildlife in Anchorage plan. Rick Sinnott (Anchorage area biologist) and Jessy Coltrane (Anchorage assistant area biologist) will attend each ABC meeting and will provide fundamental biological and management information about bears in Anchorage. Elizabeth Manning will provide education expertise. Marian Snively will provide technical support.
ABC members will limit the scope of their work to black and brown bears in the Anchorage area. This area is defined in the codified hunting regulations as Game Management Unit 14C. However, wherever possible, an attempt should be made to keep informed of the goals and actions of similar groups in other parts of Alaska, and to coordinate efforts.
The ABC consists of representatives from the following agencies:
- Alaska Department of Fish & Game, Division of Wildlife Conservation and Division of Sport Fisheries
- Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Chugach State Park
- Alaska Department of Public Safety, Division of Fish & Wildlife Protection
- Municipality of Anchorage, Department of Cultural and Recreational Services and the Anchorage Police Department
- U.S. Army, Fort Richardson
- 3rd Wing, Elmendorf Air Force Base
- U.S. Bureau of Land Management
- U.S. Forest Service
The ABC may choose to include other individuals and entities (e.g., legislative delegates, Fish and Game Advisory Committee members, conservation groups, and members of the Anchorage Municipal Assembly) if needed, as ad hoc members.
ABC members agree to the provisions of this charter.