New regulations adopted by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Board of Game will limit the size of a legal moose for at least this season and the next in Game Management Units 7 and 15, which make up all of the Kenai Peninsula.
The restrictions limit hunters to only harvesting bulls that are 50-inch wide in antler spread, or with at least four or more brow tines on one side, said Alaska Department of Fish and Game Wildlife Biolgist Thomas McDonough.
“The purpose behind greatly restricting the harvest opportunities is based on recent and dramatic decline in bull-to-cow ratio in many parts of the Kenai Peninsula,” he said.
In doing so, Fish and Game is basically eliminating the spike fork harvest and a portion of the big bull harvest that was previously in regulation, McDonough said.
While the restrictions are in place, Jeff Selinger, another Fish and Game Wildlife Biologist, thinks hunters will have a difficult time finding a legal moose.
“It’s going to be a lot harder to find a legal bull,” Selinger said. “That’s the bottom line.”
The regulations will last two years, new options will be looked at in 2013 at the Board of Game meetings depending on how the moose population responds, McDonough said.
Although the restrictions are strict, McDonough said they were necessary.
“I think the general theme here is the department understands this is a hardship and a huge restriction on hunting,” he said. “The purpose is to help with the long-term management of moose on the Kenai. We feel, and the Board of Game feels this restriction is really necessary.”
The regulations also prohibit non-residents from hunting in Units 15A or 15C.
Hunters will also be required to have the antlers inspected and sealed by Fish and Game within 10 days of the kill.
Hunters can bring their antlers to Fish and Game offices in Anchorage, Homer or Soldotna during normal business hours throughout the week. Antlers can also get sealed at the Wildlife Trooper offices in Seward, Cooper Landing, Soldotna or Anchor Point by appointment.
To coincide with the Board of Game regulations, the Federal Subsistence Board issued an Emergency Action to restrict moose harvests in Units 7, 15A, 15B and 15C to one antlered bull with 50-inch antlers or four or more brow tines.
The archery-only season in Units 15A and 15B started on Wednesday and will continue through Aug. 17. The general season starts the same as usual, Aug. 20 and runs through Sept. 20.
For more information call the Fish and Game offices in Soldotna (262-9368) or Homer (235-8191).
Hunting regulations are available in ADF&G offices and on line at www.wildlife.alaska.gov.