FAIRBANKS (AP) -- The quota for this winter's Fortymile caribou hunt is likely to be increased by 100 caribou.
Fish and Game Department advisory committees still must go along with the plan, which was prompted after hunters killed only half of the allotted quota for three fall hunts, said state wildlife biologist Craig Gardner.
The plan is to increase the winter quota from 215 to 315, Gardner said.
The hunt begins Nov. 1 for federal subsistence users and Dec. 1 for everyone else.
''It's not going to save a ton of growth but it's going to ensure, with a cushion, that the harvest plan's goal is being met,'' Gardner told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.
According to Fish and Game harvest records, hunters killed 324 caribou during the season that ran Aug. 10 to Sept. 30.
Poor weather and inaccessible caribou were the main reasons for the lower-than-expected harvest this fall. That's when the quota was bumped up by more than 500 caribou following five years of restricted harvest as part of a recovery plan. The herd's size has nearly doubled, from 22,000 to almost 40,000.
The combined fall quota of the last five years was 100 bulls and the quotas for all three hunts, most notably the Steese Highway hunt north of Fairbanks, were met in a matter of days.
''I didn't think we'd fill the quota for all three hunts but I thought we would fill the quota for one or two hunts,'' Gardner said. ''They weren't where hunters could get to them easily.''
Of the three fall hunts, the Steese Highway hunt produced the largest harvest with hunters taking 143 caribou from a quota of 245. The upper Salcha River/upper Goodpaster River hunt -- primarily a fly-in endeavor -- had the highest success rate, with hunters taking 67 caribou from a quota of 100. The Taylor Highway hunt had a harvest of 114 caribou from a quota of 320.
Next year's harvest quota will be determined by the spring population estimate biologists will take next June, but it should be higher than this year's total quota of 860, Gardner said.
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