The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is asking hunters in Prince William Sound not to take black bears with collars.


Over the summer, Fish and Game captured, collared and released 20 black bears in the area to research the decline to the species. The department is working with the Chugach National Forest to track the animals — by watching their home range movements; bear movement and habitat use — for three seasons.


In a release, Fish and Game said the bears have also been fitted for ear tags, which should be visible to hunters and wildlife viewers.


After three years, the collars are programmed to detach from the bears.


According to Fish and Game, conservation efforts for the Prince William Sound population have already begun; including shorter hunting seasons, a limit of 200 black bears taken in a season, as well as Fish and Game’s efforts to manage the hunt by registration permits.


“Black bear harvests in Unit 6D, which encompasses coastal areas surrounding Whittier, Valdez and Cordova, nearly tripped from the late 1990s to 2007 and have steadily declined since,” Fish and Game said.


It isn’t illegal to take a collared bear, but the department said it would hinder their efforts to understand the population.


Any hunter who takes a collared bear is asked to bring the collar to Fish and Game within 30 days, at the same time the hide and skull are presented for sealing. Hunters must also report the harvest within five days of the kill.


Only hunters with a registration permit can harvest black bears in the Prince William Sound area.


Megan Edge can be reached by email, on Twitter and Facebook.


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