Storms prompt walrus hunters to seek earlier season

Posted: Monday, November 13, 2000

DILLINGHAM (AP) -- This fall's walrus hunt on Round Island was such a difficult fight against high winds and freezing rain that the Qayassiq Walrus Commission will be asking state game regulators to move the hunting season to earlier in the year.

Hunting was stopped on the Walrus Islands, including Round Island, in 1962, when they were established as a state game sanctuary. Subsistence hunts were allowed again in October beginning in 1995.

Hunting dates later were moved forward, from Sept. 20 to Oct. 20, because of concerns about fighting the worsening fall weather.

State Fish and Game biologist Jim Woolington said the walrus hunt originally was scheduled for late fall to ensure that the hunt avoids a period when most of the walruses are hauled out on the islands.

''The dates of the hunt are a compromise between hunters'' and the hunted, Woolington told The Bristol Bay Times.

But hunters contend that pushing their subsistence hunt to late fall is courting disaster.

The Walrus Commission plans to submit a proposal to the state Board of Game this year seeking an earlier hunt, possibly starting around Sept. 1.

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