Feds halt Skilak area hunting and trapping

File photo/Peninsula Clarion In this Dec. 12, 2008 file photo Tamara Dotson makes her way through brush alongside Skilak Loop in pursuit of rabbits during a day of hunting with Ted and Elaina Spraker. Dotson was learning to hunt through a youth hunting program offered through the local chapter of the Safari Club.

Beginning Nov. 10 the Skilak wildlife Recreation Area will be permanently closed to hunting and trapping the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge announced Friday.


The closure is in response to a 2013 Alaska Board of Game meeting which opened the area to firearms hunting for wolf, coyote and lynx, according to a media release.

The restriction is meant to support enhanced wildlife viewing, environmental education and interpretation within the recreation area according to the release.

The closed area includes 44,000 acres within the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and defined by a line that begins at the easternmost junction of the Sterling Highway and the Skilak Loop Road, heads south to the south bank of the Kenai River then runs along the south bank of the river to its confluence with Skilak Lake, curves west along the north shore of SKilak Lake to Lower Skilak Campground then heads north along the Lower Skilak campground road and the Skilak Loop Road to its junction with the Sterling Highway, then east along the Sterling Highway to the point of origin.

The area — called the Skilak Loop Management Area — is closed to hunting and trapping except for moose that may be taken by Alaska Department of Fish and Game issue permit and small game which may be taken from Oct. 1 through March 1. via falconry and bow and arrow only.

Youth hunters may also take small game by standard .22 rimfire or shotgun in a portion of the closure from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31.

Deputy Refuge Manager Steve Miller said, according to the release, that the Skilak Wildlife Recreation Area was designated in 1985 as a special area to be managed with an emphasis on wildlife viewing and environmental education and interpretation.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game issued a media release criticizing the closure including a statement by wildlife division director Doug Vincent-Lang calling the closure a “federal overreach into state management of fish and wildlife.”


Reach Rashah McChesney at rashah.mcchesney@peninsulaclarion.com