FAIRBANKS (AP) -- The state is closing moose hunting in portions of Game Management Unit 24 near Bettles because snow conditions are making an already declining moose population an easy target for hunters using snowmachines.
The closure takes effect at midnight Tuesday, and affects all drainages north of the Koyukuk River upstream from the Alatna River.
Heavy snow that fell during a warm spell in February hardened as temperatures dropped, causing a thick crust to form on top of the snow which can support snowmachines but not moose.
As a result, moose are grouped in pockets of willows along creeks and rivers, where they are vulnerable to hunters on snowmachines.
About a third of the moose gathered along the Wild River have been taken by hunters within the past two weeks and about half of those were cows, state officials said.
Wildlife managers and local residents are concerned about an over-harvest -- especially since winter surveys conducted in the area demonstrated a significant decline in moose numbers from previous years.
Needs by local subsistence users appear to have been met, officials said.
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