The following press release is courtesy of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game:
All state managed caribou hunts in Game Management Unit 13—including hunts CC001, RC566 and DC485—will reopen on October 21. Harvest is open to hunters who currently hold valid permits and have not yet harvested a caribou.
Nelchina caribou herd numbers are currently above management objectives and biologists do not anticipate reaching a harvest quota during the winter season. The winter hunt is scheduled by regulation to remain open through March 31, 2017.
A series of mild winters and relatively low predation have combined to raise Nelchina caribou herd numbers above the fall management objective of 35,000 to 40,000 animals. Analysis of data from a photo survey conducted in July places the 2016 population near last year’s estimate of 48,700. To help bring herd numbers closer to healthy management goals, hunters are encouraged to harvest cows.
The Nelchina herd has moved into the eastern part of Unit 13 and animals have been crossing the Richardson Highway between Paxson and Sourdough. Caribou have also been seen scattered along the Paxson end of the Denali Highway. Hunters are warned that the Denali Highway is not maintained during winter; a sudden snowfall could render the road impassable and leave motorists stranded.
Hunters are reminded to be aware and respectful of private and native corporation land boundaries, controlled use areas, and closed hunting areas including the Clearwater Controlled Use Area, Paxson Closed Area, and the Tangle Lakes Archeological District. To learn more about lands closed to hunting, see the 2016-2017 Alaska Hunting Regulations.
For herd movement updates and emergency orders, call the Nelchina caribou hotline at 267-2304. The hotline will be updated periodically for the remainder of the hunting season.