Moose hunt marked by high interest and population growth in unit 17

Aug 26, 2020

Managers anticipate that more people will target moose this season because of severely restricted caribou hunting for herds in the region.

 

A map of Game Management Unit 17.
Credit ADF&G

Moose hunters are afoot in Bristol Bay, and managers expect more people will target moose this season because of severely restricted caribou hunting for herds in the region.

“We have seen considerable interest in registration in moose permits this fall,” says Todd Rinaldi, the Region Four management coordinator for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. “It’s very likely folks are very much interested in getting their moose this fall or this winter so the reduction in bag limit for Mulchatna Caribou herd is probably resulting in more effort being focused on those.”

The quotas for Mulchatna and Nushagak Peninsula caribou are smaller, but there’s still good news for residents looking to fill their freezers; moose populations in the region are generally healthy and growing. For example, according to Rinaldi, unit 17A’s numbers are expanding quickly. 

“The moose population in 17A is a fairly young population, it’s kind of been expanding westward with available habitat and that’s created quite a boom in production,” he says. “It’s currently estimated to be over its population objective and it’s produced a lot of nice bulls and a lot of opportunity to get meat.”

This growth in the population has pushed Fish and Game to liberalize hunting in unit 17A to two bull moose per hunter — one antlered bull under RM575 and one antlerless bull under RM576.

Rinaldi says the moose in 17B are meeting Fish and Game’s goals as well.

“In 17B, we also have a pretty high objective — the objective in 17B is 4,900 to 6,000,” Rinaldi says. “We appear to be in objective of both of those areas and we try to be able to divide 200 to 400 moose for human consumption out of the 17B population.”

The moose in both units 17A and B also range into adjacent management units. But unlike caribou, moose do not have distinct genetic herds, and are more likely to migrate between Fish and Game's management areas.

Unlike the other units, the moose population in 17C seems to be shrinking. That unit ranges from west of Dillingham and Aleknagik to east of New Stuyahok.

“It’s one of the few areas that we’ve been able to do consistent moose population surveys over the last few years and we do have indications of decline," Rinaldi says. "The calf survival in 17C has been pretty low and we have a research project that’s been monitoring calf survival for at least the last three to four years and it’s been declining." 

Rinaldi says they don't know why calves are surviving at lower rates. They haven’t yet announced a winter moose hunt in 17C.

The state is asking hunters to submit reports within five days of a successful hunt. Those who do not harvest a moose should submit their reports within 15 days of the season’s end. Late hunting reports should be turned in as soon as possible. Forms can be found on the ADF&G website. 

Contact the author at brian@kdlg.org or 907-842-2200.