The Regulations May Save Adak Island Trophy Hunts


Published: May - 2007

Moving back to the subject of caribou for a moment, Mark Wagner of Bootbay Guide Service in Alaska tells us some newly enacted regulatory changes may save the trophy caribou hunting on Adak Island out in the Aleutians. We told you last October (see Article ID 1740) that greatly increased hunting pressure appeared to be jeopardizing Adak's reputation as a place to take B & C barren ground caribou. Up until recently, Adak was producing a steady stream of 400-plus point bulls. But then wildlife managers at the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge and the Alaska Department of Fish & Game decided the caribou herd here was too large for its habitat and needed to be slashed by a whopping 2,000 animals. To do that, the Refuge authorized a total of three guides and two transporters to hunt the last two seasons. They also encouraged hunters to take advantage of a year-round season with no bag limits.

The results? No one has exact figures, but depending on who you speak to, as many as 300 hunters hit Adak Island in 2006. If each of them took at least two bull caribou, the harvest could be 600 animals or more. Alaska Fish & Game Biologist Lem Butler thinks those numbers are way too high, but he could not say for certain how many hunters went to Adak Island or how many caribou were harvested. That's because hunter harvest reports submitted by hunters are the only way the department has to track this, and not all hunters have sent in their harvest reports, despite being mandatory. At press time, Butler said he had a total of 135 harvest reports, of which 89 percent reported taking at least one bull. Even if hunters did take upwards of 600 animals, Butler says the herd is still too large.

The good news is, wildlife managers have come to recognize that most hunters are not going to travel all the way to Adak Island in the Aleutians to shoot small bulls or cow caribou. So, the Refuge and Alaska Fish & Game have changed........(continued)

 
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