Hunters gear up

Moose, bear, caribou kills expected to be average

Posted: Friday, August 04, 2006

 

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  Large caribou still in velvet graze just before hunting season opened a few years ago. Caribou harvests this season should be similar to years past, according to Jeff Selinger, Soldotna area management biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Photo by Joseph Robertia

Large caribou still in velvet graze just before hunting season opened a few years ago. Caribou harvests this season should be similar to years past, according to Jeff Selinger, Soldotna area management biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Photo by Joseph Robertia

Hunters can rest easy that they will likely bag more moose than fishermen did sockeye this season. Wildlife managers are predicting the 2006 hunting season will be average in regard to harvest numbers for moose, caribou and bears.

“It should be a fairly typical year,” said Jeff Selinger, Soldotna area management biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Many of last year’s 3,128 hunters fared well. A total of 537 moose — 25 to 30 of which were taken by bow and arrow, were reported harvested in Fish and Game records.

“That’s pretty average. The moose harvest has been around 500 to 550 for the last few years and I would expect we’ll be back in that range again this season,” Selinger said.

He said cow-to-calf surveys conducted last fall revealed “decent” numbers of young moose, particularly in the Caribou Hills and Homer areas, which make up the bulk of Game Management Unit 15C.

“The 15C area is where moose are doing the best,” he said.

Selinger said moose numbers were the same in GMU 15B — which roughly runs from the Kenai River south to the north shore of Tustumena Lake — while numbers were down slightly in GMU 15A — which runs from the Kenai River north to Point Possession.

Selinger said some calf numbers could have changed slightly since the fall survey, which he attributed to the heavy snow that fell in late March.

“That delayed greenup, which is really hard on moose - calves in particular. So, calf harvest numbers may be down slightly, relative to last year,” he said.

Selinger said hunters should not expect too many opportunities from last year’s Fox Creek Fire, which consumed more than 26,000 acres of forest on the south side of Tustumena Lake.

“It’ll be a few years before the browse really comes up and draws moose in, but right now the only advantage to hunting in that area would be the increased visibility,” Selinger said.

Much like moose, caribou harvests should also be similar to years past, Selinger said.

There are four caribou herds on the peninsula, only two can be hunted (by permit drawing) — the Kenai Mountain herd and the Killey River herd, which have an estimated 300-350 and 350-400 caribou, respectively.

“Last year, from 250 permits issued, 20 animals were harvested from the Kenai Mountain Herd, which is pretty typical. Generally, 20 to 22 animals are harvested in this area annually,” Selinger said.

 

Large caribou still in velvet graze just before hunting season opened a few years ago. Caribou harvests this season should be similar to years past, according to Jeff Selinger, Soldotna area management biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Photo by Joseph Robertia

“For the Killey River herd there were 25 permits issued and three animals harvested. This is a little less than the 10 to 15 animals that usually come out of this area,” he added.

Selinger explained that caribou harvest numbers are frequently low in comparison to the amount of permits issued — particularly for the Kenai Mountain herd — due to the difficulty hunters have getting to where these animals are.

“People often don’t understand the logistics of these caribou hunts,” he said.

As far as bagging bruins, Selinger said black bear hunters should expect another good season.

“Last year we had a total of 437 black bears harvested. That’s a little bit higher than the 350 to 400 bears harvested annually the last few years,” Selinger said.

Selinger said it’s still too early to say wheather a brown bear season will happen on the peninsula this year.

“It all depends on what happens between now and the end of September,” he said.

The brown bear hunt is managed for a three-year average of human-caused mortalities that does not exceed 20 total bears, nor exceed eight female bears older than one year.

“Right now (as of July 30), we’re at 10 human-caused mortalities for the year, of which three are known females older than a year, six are males, and one is of unknown sex,” Selinger said.



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