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Board of Game to consider what it means to position animals and Nushagak caribou traditional use

Courtesy of Andy Aderman/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Nushagak Peninsula caribou.

People can still provide written comments on the proposals. The deadline to sign up to testify in person is on March 5.

The Board of Game will meet beginning on Friday in Fairbanks. The board will consider proposals from around the state, including three proposals from the Central and Southwest meeting in January, and a fourth proposal it generated that came out of that meeting.

  • Proposal 22 is aimed at determining the customary and traditional uses of the Nushagak Peninsula caribou herd. 
  • Proposal 100would no longer require that beaver traps and snares in unit 16 be submerged in water.
  • Proposal 199 prohibits trapping within 50 yards of multi-use trails and trailheads in units 13, 14 and 16. 
  • Proposal 271 provides a definition for the term “position” as it applies to using snowmachines for harvesting game. 

The board will also review its management policies for wolf and bear, which will expire March 31.

Public comment
People who want to publicly comment over the phone have to sign up. The deadline to do so is 5 p.m. today.

Register for public comment here.

The deadline to sign up to testify in person is on March 5. People can still provide written commentsas well.

A full list of the proposals is available online, along with the meeting agenda, agency reports, public and advisory committee comments, and registration and testimony sign-up.

The meeting will be streamed live at

Proposal 22
One of the state department of Fish and Game’s proposals will determine the customary and traditional uses of the Nushagak Peninsula caribou herd in units 17A and C.

Alaska state law protects customary and traditional uses of fish and game, and the Board of Game has to provide for those uses before recreational or commercial ones. It will consider eight criteria to determine whether a population is associated with customary or traditional uses, including how long the resource has been used, how it is harvested and the sharing of knowledge between generations.

For caribou, the board generally makes determinations for specific herds. But 1988 was the last time the board made a determination for caribou in the Bristol Bay area. Since then, Nushagak Peninsula caribou were reintroduced to provide for additional hunting opportunities.

In the proposal, Fish and Game said that if the board determines customary and traditional use of Nushagak Peninsula caribou, then the state will provide options for the board to consider establishing the harvest amounts.

Proposal 271
The board will also look at proposal 271, which it generated during the January meeting. That proposal defines the term “position” as it applies to using snowmachines for harvesting games.

It proposes that “position” means a snowgo can be used to get up to 300 yards of an animal going under 15 miles per hour, as long as the hunter doesn’t approach the animal multiple times or cause it to run away. It also specifies that the hunter can’t use the snowmachine to contact an animal, pursue game if it's running away, or harass it.

If passed, the board’s definition would apply statewide. Currently, different areas have different rules for how hunters can use snowgos to position themselves or animals. The state says its proposed definition would more closely align with the regulations on federal lands.

The Nushagak Advisory Committee opposed the restrictions on speed and distance at its February meeting. Instead, it proposed that "position" mean approaching game at any speed, including multiple approaches, and allowing for the hunter to pursue fleeing game.

Read more of the Nushagak Advisory Committee’s discussion on this proposal.

Nushagak's advisory committee submitted a proposal at the January meeting that allowed the use of snowmachines to hunt for wolves and wolverine. The board passed that proposal, which added unit 17 to other areas that already allow for positioning by snowmachine. The advisory committee said in its initial proposal that the current regulations prohibiting the use of snowmachines to position wolves and wolverines conflict with longstanding hunting practices.

Contact the author at or 907-842-2200.

Izzy Ross is the news director at KDLG, the NPR member station in Dillingham. She reports, edits, and hosts stories from around the Bristol Bay region, and collaborates with other radio stations across the state.