PRUDENT AND IMPRUDENT USE OF ANTLERLESS MOOSE HARVESTS IN INTERIOR ALASKA

Donald Dean Young Jr, Rodney D Boertje

Abstract


Liberal antlerless moose (Alces alces) hunts which allow the take of substantial numbers of largely female moose have been controversial and divisive since the Alaska Department of Fish and Game instituted ill-timed, liberal antlerless hunts in the early 1970s that contributed to a precipitous population decline. Thus, we initially found the governing, citizen (non-agency) advisory committees largely skeptical of implementing liberal antlerless harvests in the early 2000s in Game Management Unit 20A (Unit 20A). To help justify the hunts, we focused on presenting information about the notably low nutritional status of the current moose population relative to moose populations worldwide. However, to gain broader credibility and trust, we needed to directly address public perceptions regarding former “mismanagement” of antlerless hunts, including admitting past mistakes that contributed to long-term poor hunting opportunities. We subsequently presented major differences between recent antlerless hunts and those in the 1970s. Specifically, we contrasted relevant circumstances between the 2 time periods, including moose population trajectories, harvest rates of males and females, survey techniques and related technology, winter severity and frequency, and reproductive rates. Illustrating the major, time-period differences in these parameters was key to assuring the public that harvest of female moose could be prudent. By directly addressing public anxieties, we were successful in gaining and maintaining public support for liberal antlerless hunts in Unit 20A. Subsequently, our success in Unit 20A has helped ease recent expansion of antlerless hunts into adjacent areas.

Keywords


Alaska; Alces alces; antlerless; harvest rates; management; moose; overharvest; population trajectory; productivity; winter severity

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