Winter moose hunt sees average harvest in GMUs 17B and C

Jan 5, 2019

So far 27 moose have been reported harvested in game management units 17B and C. While 2018 saw an improvement in the herd’s health, biologists will continue to keep a close eye on the population. 

A cow in a snowy thicket.
Credit KDLG News

Update Jan. 8, 2019: The total harvest number has now reached 27 moose.

Original Jan. 5, 2019 article:

Conditions were decent during December's winter moose hunt in game management units 17B and C; the preliminary harvest is 25 moose, which is just below the five-year average of 27. Still, hunters grappled with some rainy weather during the season, which ended on Dec. 31.

“Early on, it takes a little while for the rivers to freeze where people can get across the creeks and streams and that kind of thing. But generally speaking, there was enough of a freeze to allow people to cross some of the streams and enough snow to limp across, but it certainly was a little bit rough," said Alaska Department of Fish and Game area management biologist Neil Barten.

ADF&G is still waiting on some outstanding harvest reports, but the total harvest number probably won't increase much. 

While the calf survival rate increased in 2018, Barten said that it is important to continue monitoring the population in Units 17B and C.

“In the spring of 2017, our calf survival over the course of the year was right around 10 percent, which was really low," he explained. "This year we’re looking at about 20 percent survival, maybe a little better than that, which is still not great, but it’s better. So we do have to be cautious at this point, managing moose in 17B and C. I think things are doing OK but we have to keep an eye on it.”

That’s a stark contrast to the robust moose population in Unit 17A around Togiak. ADF&G opened that winter hunt on December 26. Unit 17A has two separate registration permits for the winter hunt – one for antlered bulls and one for antlerless moose, or cows. Barten said that providing additional hunting opportunity can help control the herd’s size.

“In 17A, we have a moose population that’s really higher than we want to see. So that’s why we have the antlerless hunt in both the fall and the winter hunt over in 17A, because we want to make sure we take enough moose. Because there’s really more there than we want on the habitat,” he explained.

The bag limit is one moose per permit, for a total of two. Hunters who already harvested a moose this fall can only take one additional moose. There is a quota of 30 antlerless cows and 25 bulls. Last year, the hunt in Unit 17A was extended by a month due to poor weather conditions and low harvest numbers. While conditions have been decent this year, Barten says the hunt is still relatively slow.

“I think at this point, there’s three or four moose that we’ve heard of being reported. But talking to folks over there, it seems like conditions aren’t that bad, it’s just that for whatever reason, we haven’t gotten as much harvest as I would have expected,” Barten said.

All hunters are required to submit their reports regardless of whether or not they hunted. Reports can be submitted online, by mail, or in-person at the ADF&G office on Kenny Wren Road in Dillingham.

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

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