Friday, March 31, 2006

Legislative proposal to fund ADFG inadequate: AOC

The Alaska Outdoor Council has called legislative committe proposals to fund ADFG work inadequate. In light of increasing expenses, inadequate salaries to attract the best candidates, and spiraling overhead costs, the AOC is urging Alaskans to support higher funding for the Divisions of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Recent Threads on the Alaska Hunting Forum

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Alaska outdoors show schedules

Alaska has some great outdoors shows. The first one, the Mat-Su Outdoorsman Show starts March 31st in Wasilla. The show organizers recently sent us a schedule for the show. This is a PDF so you can print it and take it with you.

The Great Alaska Sportsmans Show starts Thursday, April 6 in Anchorage. They have also provided us a printed schedule of events for the 2006 show. This is also a PDF.

We're working on obtaining a schedule for the Fairbanks show, and we'll post it here when we get it.

Proxy hunting narrowed to curb abuses

Alaska's Game Board took action on Tuesday to restrict proxy hunting because of abuses, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

"Proxy hunts have increased sharply in recent years, Fish and Game officials say. Some hunters reportedly abuse the practice, though they're not breaking the law.

They collect multiple proxies from senior citizens who don't need caribou or moose meat and keep the meat for themselves. Other hunters acquire proxies so they can kill more animals, thus increasing their chance of nabbing trophy game, said Fish and Game spokeswoman Cathie Harms."

The abuses are apparently wide spread, but mainly concentratred in the Nelchina country. Under the new rules, only people qualified to hunt in the area will be allowed to do so. The board also ruled that antler trophies must be destroyed to make sure the game is really being harvested to benefit those for whom the regulations where originally enacted.

Predator control programs crimp wildlife agency budget

Extensive predator control programs require serious funding, according to an Anchorage Daily News story. These programs have been forcing the cash-strapped agency to modify program priorities. The ADN quoted Wildlife Division Director Matt Robus:

"Instead of flying a moose survey every two years, we're flying them every three or four years," he said. "We've pulled back on sheep and goat surveys. "

"Our information for some populations isn't as up-to-date as we'd like it. We're doing less survey and inventory work than we feel we need to."

Robus was talking to the Alaska Board of Game at the beginning of its ten-day spring regulations meeting now going on in Fairbanks.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Hot Threads on the Alaska Hunting Forum

Friday, March 10, 2006

ADFG advises on Avian Flu

With all the speculation about avian flu, how should Alaska waterfowl hunters regard the birds they take next fall? Alaska wildlife division director Matt Robus wrote this in an article in Alaska Wildlife News.

"As we take these precautionary measures it is important to remember that there is no reason to think that HPAI has reached Alaska, and that it is not certain that it will be brought here by wild birds. In addition, we know of no case where a person has become infected with HPAI from a wild bird. Our best advice is that Alaskan hunters should not be overly concerned about avian flu, but should practice common sense precautions while handling and preparing wild birds. Do not use any birds that are obviously sick, wash up after handling birds and clean your tools and work surfaces, use rubber gloves while dressing birds, and cook the meat thoroughly to kill disease and parasite organisms—all practices that should be used whether or not HPAI makes an appearance here."

More detailed information is available in an ADFG fact sheet on Avian Influenza.

ADFG/Wildlife publishes response to game proposals

pThe Alaska Department of Fish & Game has published its reponse to proposals now before the Alaska Board of Game. The response goes through the proposals one by one and gives a department position and brief rationale for the position. This is a PDF report.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Dick Burley appointed again to state game board

Former Alaska Board of Game member Richard Burley of Fairbanks was appointed by Governor Frank Murkowski again to the board after a 10 year absence, according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Burley is a retired printer, with a strong interest in Alaska hunting.

"I don't think it's going to mean much of a change," said Pat Valkenburg, Interior spokesman for the Alaska Outdoor Council, in the News-Miner article. "He's pro-hunting. He's pro-intensive management."

Burley replaces Alaska guide Sharon McLeod-Everette. Murkowski also reappointed Cliff Judkins of Wasilla for another term.

Monday, March 06, 2006

State's wolf numbers double while wolf control goes on

Alaska's wolf population has essentially doubled in the last 20 years, even in the face of substantial state wolf control efforts, according to ADF&G statistics reported by the Fairbanks Daily News Miner.

It is tempting to think that more wolves taken in control programs means fewer wolves in the state. However, just the opposite has actually occurred. From the News-Miner:

"The increase in wolves is likely due to an increase in the number of moose and caribou from the early 1980s to the mid-1990s, a time during which the state was actively conducting wolf control in several areas, said [ADF&G biologist Mark] McNay.

"Ungulate populations around the state were increasing" said McNay, citing the Mulchatna and Fortymile caribou herds, as well as the Tanana Flats moose population, as three examples.

Is wolf control therefore good public policy? This long term demonstration of the effectiveness of the policy leaves little room for doubt that it works, and that wolf populations can actually benefit. There may be arguments that can be marshalled against wolf management as the right policy for Alaska -- and other wolf jurisdictions -- but the extirpation argument is clearly not one of them.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Boards Question State Fish & Wildlife Enforcement

Concern has been building in Alaska that a Department of Public Safety reorganization early in the Murkowski administration has reduced effective fish and wildlife law enforcement. The reorganization eliminated the Division of Fish and Wildlife Protection, replacing it with the Alaska Bureau of Wildlife Enforcement. Last fall, the Alaska Boards of Fisheries and Game wrote Commissioner Tandeske expressing their concern and requesting statistics. Here is the text of that letter. Public Safety responded at a mid winter meeting of the Boards.

Dear Commissioner Tandeske:

Both the Board of Game and Board of Fisheries have recently held some of their annual regulatory meetings at which the issue of fish and wildlife enforcement has been a major topic. Quite frankly, public testimony has pointed directly at an obvious decreasing fish and wildlife enforcement presence -especially at some of the more remote areas of the state.

Both boards realize that fish and wildlife enforcement priorities have always shifted depending on the fish and wildlife seasons at hand. In addition, legislative priorities have resulted in vacillating budgets for both the Troopers and Fish and Wildlife Enforcement personnel. However, we are concerned that the recent combination of the two divisions has resulted in less emphasis on our fish and wildlife resources.

Considerable emphasis has been made by this administration concerning the maximum utilization of our fish and wildlife resources to benefit Alaskans. As instructed, both boards have attempted to implement this strategy, along with addressing the ever-increasing social conflicts over resource allocations such as subsistence, sport, commercial, and personal uses. All of our efforts are futile, however, if inadequate enforcement is present to assure that the boards' regulations and plans have a reasonable chance of being properly implemented.

The Board of Game and the Board of Fisheries respectfully request activity statistics from the Department of Public Safety so that we can proceed with our busy regulatory schedule beginning early next year. If enforcement efforts have diminished significantly since the reorganization in August 2003, then it will behoove both boards to examine the enforceability of our specific regulations much more closely.

We request the following data:
1. All Alaska Public Safety Information Network (APSIN) activity statistics for the Division of Fish and Wildlife Protection troopers from July 1, 2000 through June 30, 2003, provided in monthly printouts.

2. All APSIN activity statistics for all Alaska Bureau of Wildlife Enforcement (ABWE) troopers from July 1,2004 through June 30,2005, provided in monthly printouts.

3. All APSIN activity statistics for the Wildlife Investigations Unit from July 1, 2000 through June 30,2003, provided in monthly printouts.

4. All APSIN activity statistics for the Wildlife Investigations Unit from July 1, 2004 through June 30,2004, provided in monthly printouts.

5. An annual budget summary for the Division of Fish and Wildlife Protection and Bureau of Wildlife Enforcement from July 1,2000 through June 30,2005.

6. All APSIN activity statistics identified in 1 & 2 above for the following posts: Fairbanks, Palmer, Wasilla, Bethel, Kotzebue, Nome, King Salmon, Kodiak, Soldotna, Homer, and Sitka.

7. A comparison of personnel location assignments and filled trooper positions for the Division of Fish and Wildlife Protection and the Bureau of Wildlife Enforcement from July 1,2000 to June 30,2005.

If possible, we would request this information by early January of 2006 so that it can be provided to the separate boards at their January meetings. It will be extremely beneficial in helping us in establishing our regulatory priorities and in making recommendations concerning our fish and wildlife management and conservation responsibilities to the governor and legislature.

Your assistance is greatly appreciated. If you need any additional clarification, please let us know as soon as possible.


Mike Fleagle, Board of Game / Art Nelson, Board of Fisheries

Hooter Hunting

Most Alaska hunters are familiar with the grouse and ptarmigan that inhabit the bulk of Alaska. But hooters? Hooters is a local name for blue grouse, the largest of the Alaska grouse, inhabitants of the Alaska panhandle.

Riley Woodford has written about his blue grouse hunting experiences in the most recent issue of Alaska Wildlife News:

"Blue grouse or hooters are sometimes dismissed as “dumb” birds, but that’s not my experience. My first attempt at spring hooter hunting a few years ago left my buddy and I feeling dumb, while the hooters mocked us from the trees."

Friday, March 03, 2006

TIP: Alaska Hunt Planning Timeline

Planning an Alaska hunt is no small undertaking. With a few rare exceptions that usually require local knowledge and Alaska residency, it’s an expedition that will require a time investment uncommon to hunts in other parts of the United States. Here are some steps to consider for planning a September hunt.

One to Two Years Out
Select a guide / air charter service. The good ones book early. So should you.

January - February
Everyone wants to hunt Alaska until it’s time to get out the wallet. Get some deposit money down from your partners now. It will reduce the flake-out factor. If you’re renting a raft or camping gear, make your reservations now. Same goes for airline reservations and lodging / rental car if you need it.

February - March
Research a primary and secondary hunt area. The secondary is your backup plan in case things don’t go well with Area One. Get 1:63,360,000 series maps for both.

March - April
Take a second deposit from your group members, so they don’t have to come up with all of it at once. Confirm your hunt locations and firm up your air charter arrangements. Until you send some money to your charter, it’s just a nice conversation on the phone. Send them some money or you don’t have a reservation. Make a deposit on your rental raft. Reserve a satphone or VHF radio if you plan to rent one. Check ADFG harvest stats and start going through your gear inventory.

Get the final payments from your hunters, confirm costs for meat and trophy transport / processing, purchase remaining gear, practice with your weapon of choice, do a shake-down cruise with your raft (new raft purchases) and start your physical conditioning. I put this last because I know you’re not going to do it anyway, but it should be on the list somewhere.

Two Weeks Out
Purchase and repack all food, ship dry goods via air cargo to air charter, confirm ship date for rental raft, prepare float plan and give it to emergency contacts (float hunts), confirm air charter details one more time, make meat / trophy expediting arrangements.

Departure Day
Pack frozen / perishable foods and check in with luggage.

Arrival in Alaska
Give a copy of float plan to air charter, collect satphone or VHF radio if renting, make last-minute purchases, check in with air charter / guide.Give a copy of float plan to air charter, collect satphone or VHF radio if renting, make last-minute purchases, check in with air charter / guide.

Tip Author Michael Strahan has been an Alaska Hunting Guide, and is a frequent contributor to the Alaska Hunting Forum. He has written a book on Alaska Float Hunting now in press.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

ORV use off the Dalton Hwy - legislative hearing March 5

This information was passed along by the Alaska Outdoor Council. Whether or not you agree with this legislation, here is a way to make your voice heard in the process.

On Sunday March 5, 2006 at 1:30 p.m. the House Transportation Committee will be taking up HB 85. When passed into law HB 85 will repeal the ORV ban in the Dalton Highway Corridor Management Area, allowing motorized access to millions of acres of public lands in GMU 20, 24, 25, and 26, north of the Yukon River. The members of the House Transportation Committee are listed below along with their contact number and e-mail address. Please respectfully contact their offices to convey your support for this piece of legislation. Information regarding SB 85 is listed directly below. If there are any questions regarding this piece of legislation please contact Senator Seekins Office at 907-465-2327.

Background: A substantial portion of Alaska's landmass lays on the north side of the Yukon River, served by only one road in the entire area -- the Dalton Highway. With very limited exceptions, current law entirely bans the use of off-road vehicles within five miles of the highway's right-of-way starting at the Yukon River crossing at mile 57 and extending 357 miles north to the Arctic Ocean.

Summary: SB 85 Removes the prohibition on the use of off-road vehicles within five miles of the right-of-way of the James Dalton Highway; beginning 12 months after the bill becomes law.

What does SB85 do?
  1. Provides access for average Alaskans to recreate on tens of millions of acres of public land
  2. Allows the State of Alaska & BLM to create and implement land use plans to provide for recreational development within the Dalton Hwy Corridor.

How ORV use is regulated within the Dalton Highway Corridor Management Area, after the passage of HB 85, depends on who participates in the planning process.

House Transportation Committee Members:

Jim Elkins 465-3424
Carl Gatto 465-3743

Vic Kohring 465-2186 Rep_Vic_Kohring@legis.state
Mark Newman 465-2679
Bill Thomas 465-2679
Woodie Salmon 465-4527
Mary Kapsner 465-4942