Petersburg Pilot -

Illegal moose kills well above average during first week


The first week of moose season resulted in similar harvest numbers as the record breaking 2009 season, with one exception. As of Sept. 21, hunters in the Petersburg, Wrangell and Kake areas killed 35 moose, matching the record year, but seven illegal bulls were also harvested.

On average six to nine illegal bulls have been killed over the entirety of a season since the local regulations changed in 2009, and if this trend continues, Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) may have to consider altering season closure dates.

“If people comply with the antler restrictions then we don’t worry about quotas or anything, we can just let the season run,” says Rich Lowell, area wildlife biologist for ADFG.

Lowell says antler restrictions can make it tough on hunters, but they are in place to protect the middle aged segment of the bull population for breeding purposes. Adequate time to field judge moose is important, especially due to the tough conditions hunters face such as dense forest with low visibility and overcast skies.

“It’s not like deer hunting where you look, you see antlers, and you can shoot,” Lowell says. “If you have any doubt, then you just have to pass.”

Mitkof Island saw nine legal bulls taken, and four killed that failed to meet antler restrictions, the most of any area for the RM038 moose hunt. Kupreanof Island had seven legal moose taken, but all exceeded antler restrictions. Of the six bulls registered in Thomas Bay, only one was deemed illegal. The Stikine River area led the way with 12 legal bulls, but had two illegal kills. There was also one legal bull registered in the Virginia Lake hunting area.

Lowell says he will continue to look at average annual harvest numbers for each area and weight those figures against how many illegal kills is tolerable. But areas with higher than acceptable illegal bull kills could possibly face short hunting seasons.

“If you only have one or two seconds to evaluate, then you’re better off passing on that shot,” Lowell says.


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