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Serpentine Official Hopes to Curb What Local Hunters Can Leave Behind

The Superintendent of Bering Land Bridge National Preserve hopes a new regulation will protect visitors from both animals and waterborne disease.

The proposed rule would require hunters to remove all non-edible animal parts from within half a mile of Serpentine Hot Springs and Serpentine Airstrip.

Superintendent Jeanette Koelsch says the rule is a response to increased bear activity at Serpentine in recent years. After visitors reported a number of bear sightings, park employees investigated the area and found two gut piles. Koelsch says the innards likely came from moose or caribou, left behind by hunters.

Gut piles, along with heads, hinds, and bones, can attract scavenger animals including bears and wolves. According to Koelsch, park officials became concerned about dangerous interactions between visitors and wildlife at Serpentine, a popular spot to hunt, hike, and soak in the hot spring.

They also noted the decomposition of animal parts could contaminate water sources and pose a public health risk.

Koelsch says signs were posted at the facilities right away, discouraging hunters from leaving gut piles. But officially creating a new regulation has taken around two years.

The proposed rule is open for public comment through February 15th. To submit a comment, go to www.parkplanning.nps.gov. Under “documents open for comment,” click on the Alaska Regional Office.

Image at top: Serpentine Bunk House. Photo: National Park Service.

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