Update On Sika Deer On Kodiak Island


Published: February - 2002

Continuing subscribers will remember our reports over the last three years concerning the population crash of Sitka deer on Kodiak Island. The number of deer here suddenly dropped 40 to 60 percent due to the excessively harsh winter of 1998-99. The crash resulted in a reduced bag limit (from five deer to three) and a 64 percent reduction in the number of hunters going to Kodiak for deer. Well, it seems that the blacktail deer population here is well on its way to a full recovery. We have that straight from Robert Stovall, biologist for the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, and Larry Van Daele, biologist for the Alaska Fish and Game office in Kodiak. Both confirmed reports we have received from subscribers on an increase in deer numbers and trophy quality.

According to Stovall and Van Daele, the deer population is back up to 60,000 animals, versus a total of about 20,000 just two years ago. They have both observed lots of young deer, and say up to 25 percent of the does recently surveyed had twins with them. Also, they say the older bucks have increased in antler size due to the reduced competition for quality food. Does this mean hunters will see an increase in the bag limits this season? Not yet. Van Daele says they will be re-evaluating the deer population at the end of the 2002-03 season, and if good weather conditions allow the population to reach its original 70,000 to 80,000 deer again, they anticipate increasing the bag limit for the 2003 season.

In the meantime, it seems things have improved enough for deer hunters to head back to Kodiak again, as witness two very positive reports we recently received on hunts this past season. The first is from Fred Hatcher, who hunted here in October and November with Dick Roherer of Roherer Bear Camp. Hatcher reports taking a 5 x 5 buck that scored 106-4/8, plus a "very good" Kodiak brown bear. He says he saw lots of game during his hunt and gives the cost as $11,500.... The other subscriber is Bruce........(continued)

 
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