Koyukuk coalition loses moose appeal

Posted: Monday, August 25, 2003

FAIRBANKS (AP) Villages along the Koyukuk River have lost an appeal claiming that the state Board of Game allows too many permits for non-subsistence moose hunting in the area.

The Alaska Supreme Court released a decision Friday that upheld a lower judge's decision to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Koyukuk River Basin Moose Co-Management Team, which represents the subsistence interests of area villages.

The team sued the Board of Game, then-Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Frank Rue and the state of Alaska over a regulation enacted in 2000 that allowed as many as 400 people to receive draw permits to hunt moose in the Koyukuk river drainage area, a 4,971 square-mile zone in which aircraft use is prohibited as a measure to limit hunting by people who don't live in the area.

The coalition of villages asserted in the lawsuit that allowing as many as 400 draw permits was a violation of Alaska's subsistence statutes and the sustained yield requirements of the state constitution.

Then-Superior Court Judge Mary Greene dismissed the team's lawsuit, siding with the Board of Game's arguments that it set the number only as a ceiling for the most permits the Department of Fish and Game could issue.

The Department of Fish and Game, which actually grants the permits, was expected to issue fewer than 400, the Board of Game argued.

Greene also cited evidence that the moose population could still provide for subsistence needs in the area if 400 permits were issued, though it would likely require more intense management practices such as predator control.

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