Agency Halts Grizzly Hunting in Kenai National Wildlife Refuge

POSTED: 01:26 PM AKDT Oct 25, 2013    UPDATED: 02:22 PM AKDT Oct 25, 2013 
Brown Bear
ANCHORAGE, Alaska -

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it's closing the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge to grizzly bear hunting.

The emergency order takes effect at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.

Refuge Manager Andy Loranger says the level of mortality this year of the bears, referred to in Alaska as brown bears to distinguish them from grizzlies living farther from coastal waters, is not scientifically sustainable.

The agency says in an announcement that at least 43 brown bears have been killed in spring and fall hunting seasons.

Another 23 have been killed by people defending property or their lives, by illegal hunting, by vehicle kills or by the agency killing problem bears.

The agency says that's more than 10 percent of the best available estimate of 634 grizzlies on the peninsula south of Anchorage.