BETHEL (AP) -- Beavers are multiplying and have become a nuisance in portions of West and Southwest Alaska. But new rules by the state Board of Game will allow people from the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta and Kotzebue areas to shoot beavers for food the year-round.
Beavers up until now had been classified by state game managers as fur-bearing animals, and they could only be trapped for their pelts.
But last October, petitions were filed with the Game Board asking that people be allowed to hunt them with guns for food, said Matt Robus, deputy director of the state Department of Fish and Game's Division of Wildlife Conservation.
Regulations were finalized in January to add beavers to the state's fur animal classification and set hunting rules. New laws, which probably will be in place by July, will allow year-round hunting, with no bag limits, in the Kotzebue region and around the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.
''The board recognized that people in these regions view the animal as a food source,'' Robus said. The board also noted that most hunting activity will take place in the spring, when people head out to their fish camps for the summer.
The Game Board also lifted a requirement that beaver pelts be ''sealed,'' or taken to a Fish and Game office for tagging and identification. That change affects all of Western Alaska, from portions of the North Slope down through the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.
''The regulation was there for the area biologists to collect data,'' Robus said. ''But there are so many beaver all over the place, the biologists didn't need the data. They weren't using it.''
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