ADF&G proposes to change moose hunt in GMU 22 D remainder
The latest Strait Science session at UAF Northwest Campus drew a crowd to hear Alaska Department of Fish and Game area biologist Bill Dunker talk about a favorite subject hereabouts: moose and state regulations on hunting moose meat.
Dunker anticipated a keen interest among members of the audience on Game Management 22D. ADF&G has submitted a proposal to the Board of Game to change regulation for a part of GMU22, known as GMU 22D-Remainder, to a registration permit hunt, to facilitate more control and monitoring of harvest numbers.
The guideline bull/cow ration is set at 30/100; a 2018 survey of the area indicated GMU 22-D-Remainder as having a ration of only 18 bulls per 100 cows.
GMU 22D-Remainder is currently designated a general season harvest ticket hunt. The open season is only for residents. The non-resident hunt closed in 2017 and remains closed. Hunters must buy a state license; the harvest tickets are free.
“There are no limits on the number of harvest tickets that are issued—no quotas, no closures,” Dunker said.
“The proposed regulation we’ve submitted is we’d go to registration permit hunting much like we do along the Nome road system. We would have a season, open with some sort of a reporting requirement,” Dunker said. “We’d have an understanding of what we would like to see for harvest and, if need be, we’d have the option to close the season down by emergency order to maintain harvest at a sustainable level.
“This is ultimately kind of part of a series of small incremental changes that we’ve made in the area through time,” Dunker added.
The proposed change for 22D-Remainder will come up for public comment as well as go before the Northern Norton Sound Advisory Committee for discussion and then go to before the state Board of Game Jan. 17—20, 2020 meeting for consideration, modification maybe, and a vote up or down. The meeting is tentatively scheduled for Nome with a work session on Jan. 16, 2020. A proposal booklet will be available this fall on the Board of Game website. The comment period on the proposals to Board will close January 3, 2020.
The public input is valued and helpful to the regulatory process, according to Dunker. “We’ll present the board with the biological information, but the public can be really instrumental in weighing in with their opinions and perspectives on the resource.”
Under discussion also is the idea to eliminate the Oct. 1 to Nov. 30 season opening during the breeding season when bulls are in rut.
“The idea there is that we don’t want to be hunting and harvesting these animals during a period of time when they’re particularly susceptible to harvest. Those bulls have got one thing on their mind. There are in the middle of the rut with a narrowed focus primarily on breeding,” Dunker commented. ‘They’re very susceptible to calling; they’re highly visible on the landscape, and just generally speaking, more susceptible to harvest.”
Hunters use calling that mimics the sound of a cow or the sounds of bulls fighting over a cow, to alert bulls to breeding opportunity, which lures them into the open for harvest, Dunker explained.
“The other factor there is, we don’t want to be in the area of potentially disturbing what is ultimately a very important and critical time of year for most moose; it’s how we’re going to make more moose in the future,” Dunker continued. “It’s in our best interest to give them the space that they need to allow that process to unfold, so that we can continue to harvest moose from the area and in years to come.”
A registration hunt would give ADF&G a better handle on what is happening with numbers and also allow in-season management options.
“Other places where we’ve had a registration permit, here and elsewhere in the state, it’s improved harvest reporting by folks that participate in the hunt,” Dunker said. “Part of what comes along with a registration permit is the ability to do in-season management, control harvest and put a cap on it and close the season down if necessary.”
Other registration permit hunts have had reporting requirements of 24 to 72 hours, established in consultation with hunters and other public input.
Aside from hunters, the moose population’s interaction with predators—wolves and bears—could be factors limiting the population. Increased access by greater numbers of hunters using the capability of modern off-road all-terrain vehicles such as four-wheelers, side-by-sides and snow machines, could also affect harvest numbers, Dunker said.
Strait Science is a series of lectures and question and answer opportunities sponsored by Alaska Sea Grant and University of Alaska — Fairbanks.