Lynx closure reveals questionable management strategy

For the first time, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game closed lynx hunting to the public on the Kenai.

I am not a trapper but local trappers knew the number of harvestable lynx was lower compared to the past few years when snowshoe hares were high, and expected the trapping season to be closed.

Area biologist Jeff Selinger sights a considerable increase in predator calling resulting in 40 percent of last year’s harvest. What Mr. Selinger ignores from his decision is several crucial points.

Last year the lynx season was shortened by two weeks due to weather, consequently, it is uncommon for wildlife scientists to base a decision on one years’ worth of data that does not reveal an accurate account of animals taken, compared to previous years. By not having a lynx hunting season there are no metrics to base a tracking strategy for populations estimates, in addition during low cycles lynx are commonly taken from urban settings where the animals are preying on small domestic livestock.

With over two million acres of refuge lands alone, and difficult access, predator callers who are a very small group of hunters are reduced to a few roads on the Kenai Peninsula and take a very small percentage of the harvest; as a result the 40 percent take is questionable at best. Furthermore, Mr. Selinger should explain why the Kenai Peninsula should be treated differently than any other part of state where hunting for lynx is never closed and has more hunting pressure. 

For over a decade we have endured the loss of hunting opportunity on the Kenai Peninsula, questionable management decisions and a severe absence of public input. The lynx hunting closure is one more example of these inept practices.