KODIAK (AP) -- The Kodiak Fish and Game Advisory Committee is recommending lowering Kodiak deer bag limits next year to help herd recovery after several successive years of high winter mortality.
If the Alaska Board of Game adopts the proposal this March, local hunters will be allowed to harvest three bucks on state lands.
During the month of December, one of the deer can be antlerless. The current state harvest limit is four, while the federal government allows an additional take, for a total of five.
On the Kodiak and Port Lions road systems, the proposed limit is one buck between Aug. 1 and Oct. 31, and one buck from Nov. 1 to 14, to be taken with primitive weapons only.
The subsistence regulations for locals hunting deer on federal lands would remain unchanged. And residents of the Kodiak Island Borough would still be allowed to harvest five deer on federal lands, including the Kodiak Island National Wildlife Refuge.
For other hunters on federal lands, the regulations would mirror any changes in the state regulations. The advisory committee proposal was developed through a review, according to Mike Amberg, chair of an advisory subcommittee charged with adressing the deer issue. Amberg said the proposal was a stopgap measure to help the deer recover.
''We can change the bag limits back again in two years or so,'' he told the Kodiak Daily Mirror.
Kodiak deer populations are driven by winter kill, according to area biologists. Last winter was mild, but the previous three winters were severe. The 1998-1999 winter was the decades coldest, with a cold, protracted spring.
''The winter kill (that year) was the highest we had since '92,'' said Refuge Wildlife Biologist Robert Stovall.
The estimated size of the Kodiak herd has been as high as 100,000 in abundant years and is currently estimated at about half of that. Stovall said the advisory board plan was ''a reasonable approach to allow the deer herd to recover more quickly, particularly in areas like the road system where there is a lot of hunting pressure.
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