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Registration for Bristol Bay's winter moose hunt is open

A moose in the Chugach mountains in 2011.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game
A moose in the Chugach mountains in 2011.

Registration for the winter season’s moose hunt in Bristol Bay opens on November 15. KDLG’s Christina McDermott sat down with Department of Fish and Game biologist John Landseidel to learn more about where people can hunt and the reason for closing certain areas.  

Christina McDermott: Thank you for coming into the studio.

John Landsiedel: You're welcome. It's good to be here.

McDermott: I know there's some changes happening with the moose hunt in units 17B and17C, which is [the] Bristol Bay area. What's going on with that?

Landsiedel: We decided to open the winter moose hunt in both 17B and 17C this year. The last couple of years it's only been open and available in 17B, but our most recent population survey that was conducted in February of 2023 showed that our moose population was exceeding our population objective. Therefore, I believe we have the surplus moose to open the winter hunt in 17C as well.

McDermott: What does that mean for hunters? What do they need to know?

Landsiedel: There's some changes that we've made to the open or closed areas. You can look at it one of two ways. The open area is east of the Wood River, or west of the Weary River. So both of those are going to be open in 17C: east of the Wood River and west of the Weary.

The other way to look at it is popular areas that are closed: Sunshine [Creek] and Icy [Creek] up on [the] first lake [in Wood-Tikchik State Park], Warehouse Mountain, Big Valley, and Land Otter Creek are also in this closure area, including Snake Lake and the Snake River, Killian Creek and the lake road [Aleknagik Lake Road]. Those are all within the closure area.

McDermott: Why are they closed?

Landsiedel: The reason for closing those areas [is] as moose move into those areas in the winter, and they start to yard-up, they become very susceptible to Dillingham residents, as it's kind of the closest area to town [and] if we get the conditions for good snow machining, those populations will be susceptible to overharvest.

So those areas receive a disproportionate amount of hunting pressure relative to the number of moose that reside in those areas across the unit. As we did our population survey in February, most of the moose are along the Nushagak River, that 3600 number. Again, it just receives a disproportionate amount of hunting pressure.

McDermott: The objective for closing [the areas] would be making sure [they're] not overhunted.

Landsiedel: Correct. We don't want to remove all the bulls out of there, or a high percentage of the bulls, in the winter because we want bulls to be available in [those areas] next Fall for harvest because it's a popular fall hunting spot as well.

McDermott: When are permits available?

Landsiedel: We're offering permits starting in Dillingham November 15. I'll be traveling to various communities to issue permits in Koliganek, New Stuyahok and Manokotak this week.

McDermott: Is there anything else people need to know about the winter harvest?

Landsiedel: Reporting is really key. I want this to be an opportunity that extends into the future. These opportunities can only exist if we have strong participation and buy-in from the locals in reporting. I would like to continue to offer these opportunities if we can get people to report on time.

This year, there will be three days to report if you harvest a moose during the winter. If you're unsuccessful, you still have the normalized 15 days of reporting within the close of the season.

McDermott: Thank you.

Landsiedel: Thanks for having me.

A map showing Units 17B and 17C for the region's winter moose hunt. The map shows both opened and closed areas. November, 2023.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game
A map showing Units 17B and 17C for the region's winter moose hunt. The map shows both opened and closed areas. November, 2023.

The winter moose hunting season opens December 1. You can find the Department of Fish and Game's announcement on the hunt here. If you would like more information, you can contact the Department of Fish and Game in Dillingham at (907) 843-2334. 

Get in touch with the author at or 907-842-2200.

Christina McDermott began reporting for KDLG, Dillingham’s NPR member station, in March 2023. Previously, she worked with KCBX News in San Luis Obispo, California, where she focused on local news and cultural stories. She’s passionate about producing evocative, sound-rich work that informs and connects the public.