Kenai Brown Bear Committee

I. Introduction

Brown bears represent a significant component of the Kenai Peninsula ecosystem and are important for the continued use and enjoyment of the Peninsula by local residents and visitors. Inappropriate garbage and food storage; fish cleaning; and the use of bird feeders during spring, summer, and fall increases the chances of human-bear conflicts that may lead to human injury or defense of life or property (DLP) killing of bears. The conservation status of Kenai brown bears is of concern due to uncertainties in the abundance and viability of the population.

In 1999, ADF&G spearheaded a public planning process with the intention of developing a comprehensive strategy for Kenai Peninsula brown bears. A group of 15 citizen and government stakeholders converged to discuss issues and craft recommendations from October 1999 to May 2000. The final product of the stakeholders' group, The Kenai Peninsula Brown Bear Conservation Strategy, comprised recommendations for four broad areas, human-bear interactions, land planning, research, and public education and outreach. All of the stakeholders agreed that education and outreach was vital to the conservation of Kenai brown bears.

The Kenai Peninsula Brown Bear Conservation Strategy was a significant first step for Kenai brown bear conservation. In an effort to continue the important work of the original Kenai Peninsula Brown Bear Stakeholders' Group and facilitate improved and cooperative education and outreach regarding Kenai Brown bear issues, ADF&G in conjunction with the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (ADNR), U. S. Forest Service (USFS), U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), U.S. National Park Service (USNPS), the Kenai Peninsula Borough (KPB), and interest groups have formed the Kenai Brown Bear Committee (KBBC).

It is the intent of the KBBC to collaborate and complement the other government-sponsored groups focused on Kenai brown bears. Formal coordination with these groups may be considered in the future.

II. Purpose

The primary purposes of the KBBC planning effort are to decrease the number of brown bears killed in defense of life and property; increase understanding about the importance of conserving brown bear habitat; and increase public knowledge about brown bears.

Objectives - The specific objectives of the KBBC are to:

  • cultivate a partnership among agencies and interested publics;
  • discuss and implement the original stakeholder recommendations pertaining to education and outreach found in the Kenai Peninsula Brown Bear Conservation Strategy;
  • develop and implement additional educational and outreach strategies as deemed necessary by the KBBC.
  • develop coordinated and consistent educational efforts and messages to address the purpose of the Kenai Brown Bear planning effort; and
  • engage members of the public-both residents and visitors-to take actions necessary to minimize negative interactions with bears.

The KBBC recognizes that measures taken to minimize problems with brown bears will often help minimize problems with black bears and other wildlife.

III. Expected Outcomes and Products

The KBBC is expected to agree on and prioritize educational and outreach messages and projects focused on Kenai Peninsula brown bears. Further, the KBBC should adopt a schedule for implementing these projects, determine who should implement them, and participate as appropriate in the implementation process.

Process-The KBBC is expected to use a consensus-building process to form 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 Kenai bears. In some cases consensus may not be possible. In these cases, committee members will document the points of disagreement in a minority report to be included in the appropriate meeting summary. However, it is expected that the KBBC will work diligently to reach consensus on even the most difficult issues. Only activities that are agreed to by consensus should be considered KBBC sponsored activities.

The key to success in this project is building a partnership among government agencies and the public. Members of the public who are interested in education and outreach regarding Kenai bears are welcome to attend KBBC meetings and enter into Committee discussions at designated times during the meeting.

Each KBBC member is encouraged to communicate with his or her agency, group, or community about the discussions and activities of the KBBC. In addition, KBBC members may be asked to participate in community education and outreach activities.

IV. Resources & Constraints

ADF&G staff will provide professional support and assistance to the KBBC as it develops an implementation strategy, including those found in the Kenai Peninsula Brown Bear Conservation Strategy as well as other recommendations developed by the KBBC.

The KBBC will meet a minimum of twice a year. Additional meetings may be held if the KBBC deems it necessary and if resources are available to do so.

Individual members and subcommittees must seek concurrence from the KBBC before applying for grants or otherwise seeking tangible support to implement KBBC endorsed action items. Such concurrence should be facilitated via e-mail if a regularly scheduled KBBC meeting would unnecessarily delay the request.

The group must reach consensus on all activities undertaken in the name of the KBBC.

V. Evaluation

The KBBC will be evaluated by members after two years of its first meeting date to determine if

  1. the KBBC has made progress in meeting its objectives;
  2. if the KBBC should continue or disband; and
  3. if the KBBC decides to continue, should modifications be made to improve the effectiveness of the group.

VI. Committee Membership

The committee is designed to be as inclusive of the interested parties as possible but some structure is necessary to ensure continuity and efficiency. The committee will be comprised of staff from ADF&G in cooperation with the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (ADNR), U. S. Forest Service (USFS), U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), U.S. National Park Service (USNPS), and the Kenai Peninsula Borough (KPB). To encourage broad representation from a variety of public interest groups, one or more individuals from each of the following interest areas may be asked to volunteer to serve as standing members of the KBBC: residential, environmental, hunting, fishing, tourism, and Native interests. Additional interest areas and individuals may be added as standing or ad hoc members of the full Committee if deemed desirable by the KBBC. Additions to the KBBC will be considered by the group at their Fall meetings only. However, subcommittees may involve "experts" or other knowledgeable individuals in subcommittee activities on an as needed basis.

All KBBC meetings are open to the public to observe. Public comment to the committee may also be solicited in specific cases; however, since the KBBC is not a regulatory body, many times public comments or concerns regarding Kenai Peninsula brown bear issues would be more appropriately directed to specific agencies or individuals. The KBBC will help facilitate public input to the appropriate policy-making body. Additionally, KBBC members approached by members of other organizations or the general public to participate in KBBC activities will, after considering the charted purposes of the KBBC, make a recommendation to other KBBC members for an upcoming meeting to include such involvement or comment as an agenda item. If there is general consensus support from the KBBC in response to the request, such public interest would be scheduled for a future meeting.

KBBC members agree to the provisions of this charter.