State Will Reportedly Close Several Moose and Caribou Hunts
From the Anchorage Daily News, the state will be shutting down multiple moose and caribou hunts in Western Alaska. Here’s more from the ADN:
With caribou and moose populations shrinking and many hunters who live in the Northwest Arctic struggling to harvest animals over the past several years, the Federal Subsistence Board voted March 30 to close caribou and moose hunting on some federal lands in the region for two months this and next summer to non-federally qualified subsistence users — in other words, hunters who live outside the range of the herd.
“While many factors, such as weather, climate change and changes to the historical extent and timing of caribou migration may be contributing to lower harvests by federally qualified subsistence users, the board should act to help ensure that rural residents are able to meet their subsistence need, and to provide for a subsistence priority,” said Thomas Heinlein, acting Alaska director for the Bureau of Land Management, during the board meeting. “Therefore, non-federally qualified harvest should be eliminated in some areas in times of shortage.”
Local hunters and game managers have been discussing the closures for almost two years, said Thomas Baker, the chair of the Northwest Arctic Subsistence Regional Advisory Council. He said it took a lot of hard work and outreach from the communities to advocate for the decision that they hope will help them protect the herd and provide food for their families.
Here’s the release from the Federal Subsistence Board:
During the telephonic work session on March 30, 2022, the Board voted to approve WSA21-01a with modification to close Noatak National Preserve (including the Nigu River portion of the Preserve in Unit 26A) and BLM managed lands between the Noatak and Kobuk rivers in Unit 23 to caribou hunting by non-Federally qualified users (NFQUs) from August 1 through September 30 during the 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 regulatory years.
The Board stated this modification is a reasonable compromise that provides for the continuation of subsistence uses and the conservation of the Western Arctic Caribou Herd (WACH), while precluding unnecessary restrictions on non-Federally qualified users. The partial closure targets the areas of highest user conflicts and minimizes potential disruptions to caribou migration. The Board also expressed concern over the 24% WACH population decline over the past two years, which prompted the WACH Working Group to change the herd’s management level to preservative declining. One management recommendation under this level is closure of some Federal lands. The Board also referenced support of the closure by affected Regional Advisory Councils.
The Board voted to approve WSA21-01b with modification to close moose hunting to non-Federally qualified subsistence users on Federal public lands in Unit 23 only from August 1 through September 30 during the 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 regulatory years.
The Board stated the closure in Unit 23 provides more subsistence harvest opportunity and is necessary to conserve the moose population, which has declined substantially; the harvestable surplus may also be exceeded. In contrast, moose harvest by non-Federally qualified users in Unit 26A is very low and unlikely to affect that moose population. The Board also referenced support of the closure by affected Regional Advisory Councils.
The Board approved both WSA21-01a (caribou) and WSA21-01b (moose) with modification for two regulatory years to assess the effectiveness of the closures and to reduce the administrative burden of processing special action requests.
Information about the Federal Subsistence Management Program may be found on the web at www.doi.gov/subsistence or by visiting www.facebook.com/subsistencealaska.
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