Alaska's Fortymile Caribou Hunt Canceled This Year

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The winter State of Alaska hunting season for Fortymile Caribou is canceled this year.

The herd's harvest quota for the entire year was unexpectedly reached and exceeded in a short three-day season in August.

Herd managers say this year's harvest does not cause long term concerns for the herd. The harvest management plan developed by state, federal and Canadian agencies, five local F&G Advisory Committees and Federal Regional Councils sets hunting quotas and allows adjustments if quotas are unexpectedly exceeded.

"We keep track of caribou with radio collars and visual searches, but we can't always predict how fast the harvest will progress. The plan provides options to offset overharvest in one hunt by changing later hunts," said Management Coordinator Roy Nowlin. "The quotas are very conservative so we can maintain herd growth."

Once the August season was closed, ADF&G staff followed the plan directives and met with the federal subsistence hunt manager and representatives of the five advisory committees and regional councils to discuss options available.

ADF&G considered recommendations and agreed to a) cancel the winter state season, b) reduce next year's (2010-2011) quota to help compensate for exceeding the harvest near the Taylor and Steese Highways this year (2009), and c) leave the season open in the central roadless part of the hunt area, where harvest was much slower. That part of the state's fall season closed September 18, 2009.

In addition, the federal subsistence hunt manager closed the fall federal subsistence season, in order to allow the winter federal subsistence season to proceed.

Harvest of Fortymile caribou is regulated by registration permit, which requires a hunter to report taking a caribou within three days. The hunt is closed when the harvest quota is achieved. This system works very well when caribou are widely dispersed or are relatively hard to find, but when caribou group together along major highways, harvest progresses very rapidly and hunt managers have insufficient time to respond.

Advisory Committee members and ADF&G and federal staff are now evaluating this year's harvest and will propose changes to hunting regulations needed to slow down the harvest in future years. Proposals will be submitted to the Board of Game by the December 4 deadline and will be considered at the spring Board meeting in Fairbanks, February 26-March 7.

Hunters are encouraged to call the Fortymile Hotline at (907) 267-2310 for additional information about the hunting season.

Hunters with questions about the federal subsistence hunt should call (800) 478-1456.