Closure of Caribou and Moose hunting in NW Alaska - again...

Bambistew

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The relentless pursuit of closing all hunting in NW Alaska to non-locals will continue forever due to the current management structure set up for federal subsistence. The closure proposed earlier this year was tabled until the next meeting and more information was gathered and reviewed.
info

Hearing info link

The link isn't working. Their website seems to be having issues. Below is the press release.

For Immediate Release:
November 2, 2021
Public hearing announced for deferred Temporary Wildlife Special Action Request WSA21-01 regarding caribou and moose in Units 23 and 26A

Last year, the Northwest Arctic Subsistence Regional Advisory Council submitted a Wildlife Special Action Request (WSA21-01) to close caribou and moose hunting on Federal public lands in Units 23 and 26A. Their request was for a temporary closure that would apply to non-federally qualified users during the months of August and September. In June 2021, the Federal Subsistence Board deferred this request, and instructed staff to gather additional information on concerns related to caribou in Units 23 and 26A.

A telephonic public hearing is scheduled for November 17, 2021 from 4pm to 6pm (or until the end of public participation) to receive additional public testimony on this deferred temporary special action request. The Board has previously held public hearings on this issue and is seeking further public comment.

The public is encouraged to participate in this hearing by calling the telephone number below. When prompted, enter the passcode.
Public Hearing Information:
Wednesday, November 17, 2021 from 4pm – 6pm (or until the end of public participation)
Teleconference: Toll Free: 888-942-9690
Passcode: 6071806

Comments will be forwarded to the Board for consideration. The Federal Subsistence Board will further discuss and take action on WSA21-01 in 2022, and the public will be informed in advance of the Board’s meeting through news releases, radio and newspaper ads, the program webpage, and social media.

The Board is committed to providing access to this public meeting for all participants. Please direct requests for accommodation needs to the Office of Subsistence Management at (800) 478-1456 or (907) 786-3888 or by e-mail [email protected] at least seven business days prior to the meeting.

More on WSA 21-01:
This request, if approved by the Board, would add the following language to the current Federal regulations for caribou and moose in Units 23 and 26A:

“Federal public lands are closed to the harvest of caribou and moose from August 1 through September 30, 2022, except by Federally qualified subsistence users hunting under these regulations.”

When the Board deferred WSA21-01, it directed the Office of Subsistence Management to seek additional input on concerns related to caribou from the Western Arctic Caribou Herd Working Group, Federal land-managing agencies, local Fish and Game Advisory Committees, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Subsistence Regional Advisory Councils, commercial guides and transporters, and subsistence users in the area. This public hearing is being held to provide additional opportunity for public input .

The original analysis for WSA21-01 is available for review on our website at https://www.doi.gov/sites/doi.gov/files/wsa21-01-fsb_0.pdf. This analysis refers to implementation in 2021; note that due to deferral, this action would now take effect in 2022 if approved by the Board.
Information about the Federal Subsistence Management Program may be found on the web at www.doi.gov/subsistence or by visiting www.facebook.com/subsistencealaska.

Missing out on the latest Federal subsistence issues? If you’d like to receive emails and notifications on the Federal Subsistence Management Program you may subscribe for regular updates by emailing [email protected].
View Full News Release here:
https://www.doi.gov/.../public-hearing-announced-deferred...

We survived the previous attempt by delay, but it will be back up for a vote again and will effect 2022 hunts. The federal board that votes on these issues, are all appointed. I tried to see who was still in vs who is new, but the DOI website is down. CFR - Subsistence board appointments If I was a betting man, they have a better than 50% chance of getting this passed now. There are 9 board members, only 5 needed for approval. The previous closure had a last minute flip by the FS appointee. There is no Forest Service lands within 450 miles of this area, BTW.

For reference, this is an area roughly the size of WY, with a caribou herd more than 2x the elk herd in WY, with a "non-qualified" hunter population of about 250. They are having a 'yuge' impact.

Please call in. The notice was posted yesterday and the hearing is the 17th of Nov.

If this passes, expect more closures in the near future in Alaska on federal lands. If you're not qualified you'll be out of luck to hunt PUBLIC lands. I'm sure you're going to see some of these ludicris issues in the L48 as well. There is no biological reason to close this area to non-qualified users. Subsistence hunters are still killing the same number of caribou today as they did 20 years ago.

This has the potential to effect about 75% of caribou hunting in the state, most caribou hunts are on federal land. If you've hunted Alaska or want to in the future, please call in. There is no stopping any of this until the rules are changed, which has zero chance of happening.
 

Big Fin

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Thanks for posting @Bambistew. This strange process for rulemaking makes it very difficult for potentially impacted parties, pretty much anyone without local subsistence rights, to have any say.

Hopefully links work and the call in process isn't a cluster that it was last time.

Pay attention folks. Bambi is correct that this might expanded beyond this huge area of NW Alaska.
 

TheTone

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Are there thoughts this type of thinking could expand due to Haaland leading DOI?
 

wllm

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@Bambistew and @Big Fin do either of you have a sense of what kind of appeals are going to be the most effective?

I'm a NR and I want to spend my $ in AK?
This isn't a biologically based decision, i.e. harvesting of a couple hundred bulls won't effect herds?
 

Bambistew

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Chugiak, AK
Are there thoughts this type of thinking could expand due to Haaland leading DOI?
I would say yes. Since the board members are ultimately appointed by the DOI, appointments could certainly be more sympathetic. The subsistence board closed BLM lands to hunting to non-qualified users in Unit 13 (just north of Anchorage) two years. Still closed today, and no way to reopen it. It was a "small" area of the total, like 50,000 acres, but still BS and not needed.

The reality is there is no biological need for this. Its just a power grab. The caribou counts haven't been completed for this year, and the trigger to reduce hunting pressure for this hunt is supposed to be based on a minimum threshold of 200,000 animals. I think counts last year were ~230k.

There is a air transport restricted hunting corridor along the Noatak River 10 miles wide by 150 miles long already. This was set up to protect the hunting corridor primarily used by subsistence hunters in the fall. Virtually zero non-locals use this 1,000,000 acre area because the only access is via river boat. Its absolutely silly to believe that a few hundred hunters outside that corridor are having a large impact on their success, especially when the majority of the harvest occurs after the proposed closure dates when the snow flies and the lakes freeze for easy cross country travel. The whole premise of the closure is based on the idea that non-local hunters are changing the migration patterns of the caribou and making it harder for the locals to kill them later in the fall. They just want lots of caribou and make it as easy as possible to kill them. Forget that their harvest has remained static for decades with the supposed outside hunter influence.

If I was a betting man, the next tactic will be pulling the climate change card and linking it to the caribou herd diminishing... which BTW is still well above historic high population.

Note, all the green this map could potentially be off limits to everyone but federally qualified subsistence users at some point in the near future, and likely will be the way things are going. That's 230,000,000 acres. As a comparison, Montana has 1/10 of the amount of federal land, or it would be comparable to banning you from hunting CO, MT, WY, ID, UT, NV, NM and AZ.
Alaska-land-status-and-ownership-map-Federal-lands-constitute-the-majority-of-the-state.png
 

Bambistew

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Who can hunt for subsistence?
Subsistence Regs

1636050179541.png

Depends. Basically everyone in AK qualifies for some sort of subsistence, however for most all hunting if you live in a "city" in Alaska you're SOL. That eliminates about 80+% of the population, even if you primarily go to that city for your groceries and supplies and or rely heavily on those cities. If I was to move 30 miles I would qualify for most of the state. Some areas limit hunting by where you live, for instance you can hunt in Wrangell NP (for giant sheep) if you live in one of the communities near the park, but other people can't. No airplane access though. The hunting was set up to favor those who traditionally hunted those areas to have preference. Since the NPs were established after the fact, thats why those in the areas can hunt them. The only exception is the original part of Denali NP which was designated before statehood.

The area in question above, would be limited to those people who live in the region only. So if you move away, but want to go back and hunt with your family, they can't hunt it either. That's like 20% of the "non-locals" who hunt that area as well. I haven't looked at the traditional hunter population that takes part in subsistence, but as I recall its like 2000+/- hunters, and they kill about 7500-8000 caribou a year. In an area the size of Wyoming... could you imagine whining about hunter pressure with densities like that?

Its crazy to think that we have two different sets of hunting regulations, but the feds flex their muscle when they want, and there is little we can do about it. The whole animals are held in trust by the states doesn't apply here, or anywhere no matter what we want to think. If the feds want it they will take it. There is a reason so many people hate the Feds here, and want more state ownership of lands. Gotta be careful what you wish for, but in this case its a strong wish, and the feds still owe us 10,000,000 acres.
 

Dougfirtree

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What's the motivation behind the closures? Is there pressure from Alaskans who are subsistance hunters? What's their perspective?
 

Bambistew

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What's the motivation behind the closures? Is there pressure from Alaskans who are subsistance hunters? What's their perspective?
There is a belief that outside hunting pressure is changing the migration patterns of caribou making it harder for communities to kill animals, and forcing them to travel farther out to find and kill them. Its all anecdotal or from oral history. They are still killing the same number of animals, but want to do so from their front door like what happened at some point in the past, but was assumed to be an every year type occurrence.

If we go back just 80 years, there was basically zero moose in this region, and the caribou herd was 25% of what it is today. The population in this area hasn't really increased in the last 30-40 years either. They have much better boats and snowmachines to get out farther as well.
 

Southern Elk

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Subsistence Regs

View attachment 200724

Depends. Basically everyone in AK qualifies for some sort of subsistence, however for most all hunting if you live in a "city" in Alaska you're SOL. That eliminates about 80+% of the population, even if you primarily go to that city for your groceries and supplies and or rely heavily on those cities. If I was to move 30 miles I would qualify for most of the state. Some areas limit hunting by where you live, for instance you can hunt in Wrangell NP (for giant sheep) if you live in one of the communities near the park, but other people can't. No airplane access though. The hunting was set up to favor those who traditionally hunted those areas to have preference. Since the NPs were established after the fact, thats why those in the areas can hunt them. The only exception is the original part of Denali NP which was designated before statehood.

The area in question above, would be limited to those people who live in the region only. So if you move away, but want to go back and hunt with your family, they can't hunt it either. That's like 20% of the "non-locals" who hunt that area as well. I haven't looked at the traditional hunter population that takes part in subsistence, but as I recall its like 2000+/- hunters, and they kill about 7500-8000 caribou a year. In an area the size of Wyoming... could you imagine whining about hunter pressure with densities like that?

Its crazy to think that we have two different sets of hunting regulations, but the feds flex their muscle when they want, and there is little we can do about it. The whole animals are held in trust by the states doesn't apply here, or anywhere no matter what we want to think. If the feds want it they will take it. There is a reason so many people hate the Feds here, and want more state ownership of lands. Gotta be careful what you wish for, but in this case its a strong wish, and the feds still owe us 10,000,000 acres.
Thanks for the explanation. I didn’t realize it was that complicated. I assumed all residents could participate.
 

Addicting

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“Reasons for changes in migration phenology are unknown.
The proportion of caribou using certain migration paths also varies each year….”

But blame it on the Non Natives, Seems familiar to the crap that down state hunters complain about with no actual facts.
 

rtraverdavis

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Maybe I missed it but is the only way to comment on this proposal to attend the teleconference hearing?
 

rtraverdavis

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What a dumb way to take public comment. Sorry guys, one more question—the hearing is from 4:00 to 6:00 pm on the 17th, but I didn’t see a listed time zone anywhere. Anyone know?
 
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