Alaska Fish & Game Department (AFGD) divides Southeast Alaska into five Game Management Units (GMUs). Black bear hunting is popular, particularly in Units 2 and 3, which produce lots of Boone & Crockett skulls. Big-bodied bears of 6½ to 7½ feet are common with occasional eight-footers killed.
From 2005 to 2009, the annual harvest for the entire Southeast Panhandle Region (GMUs 1-5) averaged 815 bears (actual range: 520-980). Precise population numbers are not available and other statistics are hard to come by, but here are some facts and figures:
Unit 2, Prince of Wales (POW) and the adjacent islands, has, ideal black bear habitat (salmon streams, estuaries and subalpine and alpine areas), which is why this area produces larger skulls than other areas in Southeast Alaska. While the average is 19 inches, every year bears with 20- and 21-inch skulls come off POW. Recent figures show about five percent of harvested bears have 21-inch skulls.
Black bear populations in Unit 2 are estimated at 5,400 to 10,000 bears. Density varies from 1.5 to three bears per square mile. From 2004 to 2006, hunters harvested an average of 450 bears a year; hunters killed only about 300 bears in 2008.
Nonresidents take about 87 percent of all bears in Unit 2, and the AFGD says unofficial interviews suggest a success rate over 90 percent by guided hunters. The spring season produces anywhere from 65 to 75 percent of the harvest, peaking in May, with about 51 percent of spring bears taken then.
On Kuiu Island (Unit 3), a 2002........(continued)