Nelchina Caribou Permits Update
In an emergency hearing today, Superior Court Judge Carl Bauman has disallowed the 1000 additional Nelchina Tier 1 permits that the Board of Game had approved and the Department of Fish and Game planned to issue beginning Friday.
The Department is researching its legal options at this time.
Meanwhile, Department staff are preparing for the fall hunt.
“We’re concentrating on a hunting season that will open August 10,” said Regional Supervisor Bruce Dale. “Those who originally got a Tier 1 permit can still hunt, and the people who planned on taking part in the Community Harvest program can still hunt.”
The caribou season for hunters who received one of the original 850 Tier 1 permits is open August 10– September 20. Hunters must comply with hunt conditions. Letters explaining the hunt conditions have been mailed to the hunters and are also posted on the Fish and Game website at http://www.adfg.state.ak.us/
In addition, up to 500 Tier 1 permits for the fall hunt will be awarded to hunters who had previously participated in the Community Harvest Program. A list of permittees will be posted on the ADF&G web site Thursday, August 5. Permits will be available Friday August 6 at the Fish and Game office in Glennallen, Palmer, Anchorage, or Fairbanks as listed on the website. Hunters with Cantwell mailing addresses can pick up their permits at the Cantwell Post Office on Friday.
A winter Tier 2 subsistence hunt will still be held from October 21– March 31. Paper and on-line applications are available now and will be accepted through September 30.
Surveys completed this summer showed the harvestable surplus is higher than expected, and the Department had planned to issue an additional 1000 permits to keep the herd within population objectives. The judge’s disallowed the additional permits.
One month before the August 10 subsistence caribou hunting season for Unit 13 was to begin, Judge Bauman issued a final ruling prohibiting all of the hunts approved by the Board of Game for this fall, and ordered the Department to reinstate a Tier II subsistence hunt.
A total of 850 permits had already been issued for the Tier I hunt, and about 500 local users had relied on participating in the “community harvest” hunt. The late date of the court’s ruling did not allow time to distribute and collect applications, score them, notify hunters and distribute the permits necessary to conduct a Tier II hunt this fall, so the State asked for a limited stay of the ruling to allow some fall hunting opportunity, and the Department prepared to reinstate the Tier II hunt for the winter season.The Nelchina herd has been intensively managed for decades to provide a steady source of meat for users. Last-minute and in-season adjustments to harvest levels based on the most recent survey data are used to keep the herd within population objectives.