For >35 years Alaska, USA, has attempted to reduce brown bear (Ursus arctos) abundance through adoption of progressively more liberal hunting regulations. We document these changes in a portion of Alaska we term the Liberal [brown bear] Hunting Area (LHA) constituting 76% of Alaska's area. In most instances, regulation liberalizations were intended to reduce brown bear abundance in the expectation this would reduce predation by bears on wild ungulates and thereby increase hunter harvests of these ungulates. Miller et al. (2011) described the hunting regulation changes in the LHA and corresponding increases in brown bear harvests through 2010. We update the changes in regulations and harvests through 2017 and report a shift in the kinds of regulations liberalized. We also document the expansion of regulations pertaining to brown bear population reduction to the small and isolated population on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula (outside the LHA) that resulted in a 25-fold harvest increase in the year of regulation liberalization. This increase caused a conflict with federal managers of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. The result was congressionally imposed constraints on the ability of managers of Alaskan national wildlife refuges to manage wildlife on refuge lands in ways federal managers deemed to be in the U.S. national interest. Ongoing litigation and policy changes may result in the same outcome for Alaskan national parks, preserves, and monuments. In the LHA during 1995–2017, we tabulated 222 regulatory changes in Game Management Subunits making brown bear hunting regulations more liberal and 4 changes making regulations more conservative. Since 2000, the State of Alaska has reported no research in the LHA that would permit evaluation of the impacts of these regulatory changes and correlated harvest increases on bear abundance or demographics.
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Vol. 28 • No. 2