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Caribou season opens with more Nushagak Peninsula hunting opportunity

Courtesy of Fish & Wildlife

Federal and state hunts for the Nushagak Peninsula caribou herd opened Monday.

The Nushagak Peninsula herd caribou hunt opened August 1 for both state and federal hunts, and there’s a little more hunting opportunity this year than in the past.

The federal hunt, which is only on federal lands, is open through the end of March and has a bag limit of five caribou per person. That’s open to residents of several Bristol Bay-area communities, said wildlife biologist Andy Aderman, who works at the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge.

“The federal permit is for people living in any of the Unit 17 communities, or 9B communities, or Lime Village and Stony River,” he said.

Game Management Unit 17 includes most of western Bristol Bay, from Togiak to Dillingham, as well as much of the Nushagak River. Unit 9B includes much of the Lake Iliamna region.

The state of Alaska has also opened up a hunt of its own. Aderman said that will take place in a wider area than the federal hunt, and is open to all Alaska residents.

That hunt is open on all Nushagak Peninsula lands through the end of September. The bag limit for that hunt is just two animals, and permits are available online or at the Dillingham Fish and Game office.

Fall hunting does not allow hunters to travel by plane the same day they shoot a caribou, although that will be allowed next January for the federal hunt.

The increased hunting opportunity is meant to try to decrease the size of the herd. Last year, hunters took 64 caribou on the Nushagak Peninsula, including 42 during the August and September and the rest in March and April. The March and April harvest included 10 taken in the special state hunt that was opened up. That’s not enough, Aderman said.

“Our herd is too big,” he explained. "And with the lack of snow the last couple of winters, we’ve been very ineffective in harvesting caribou and we have probably in the neighborhood of 1,300 caribou down on the Peninsula right now, and we think ideally that number should be around 750. We fear the herd may crash.”

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