Even with a change in regulations this season, Alaska Wildlife Troopers have charged hunters with taking moose that don’t meet Alaska Department of Fish and Game requirements.
Ten moose have been taken illegally to date this season in the Kenai-Soldotna area. The majority of those charged turned themselves into Fish and Game or troopers, Wildlife Trooper Lt. Jon Streifel said.
“A lot of it is people just aren’t taking the time to carefully observe and identify what it is they’re pulling the trigger on,” Streifel said.
This season Fish and Game is giving hunters in Units 7 and 15 the option of taking one bull with a spike antler or one bull with 50-inch antlers or antlers with four or more brow tines on one side. Antlers must be sealed within 10 days of take.
Fish and Game regulated moose harvest to 50-inch antlers or four or more brow tines for the past two seasons, due to a low bull-to-cow ratio of about 9 bulls to 100 cows, Ted Spraker, board of game chair, said.
He said the department tries to keep the ratio at 20 bulls to every 100 cows.
“Once it exceeds that ratio, you’re keeping too many bulls on range,” Spraker said. … “Anything over that is surplus, and that is open for hunting.”
Spraker said when that ratio is exceeded it also causes food and space competition between the bulls and cows. If there is a limited amount of food, it’s desirable to keep cows in the area to build the population more quickly verses having a higher number of bulls, he said.
Troopers have seen people taking sub-legal moose for a variety of reasons, Streifel said. Some hunters thought their kill met the 50-inch regulation; others thought the bull had a spike, but it turned out to have forked antlers; and some thought forks were legal.
Fines for taking illegal moose can range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand depending on the situation. Streifel said hunters who turn themselves in for an illegal kill usually receive a lesser fine. He said the best thing to do for accidental illegal takes is to call Fish and Game or troopers. Meat from sub-legal moose is given to charity.
Troopers are investigating one poaching kill so far this season. At Mile 108 of the Sterling Highway, an illegal moose was found shot and left at the side of the road. Troopers believe the kill happened about Aug. 28. If anyone has information about the incident, they are requested to call Fish and Wildlife Safeguard at 1-800-478-3377.
“It’s one thing to make a mistake. … It’s another thing to leave something and turn a blind eye to it,” Streifel said.
Kaylee Osowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.