Opinion: Local hunters will be affected by proposed restrictions

Juneau hunters take note!

  • By Mark Richards
  • Tuesday, January 17, 2023 1:38pm
  • Opinion

The Federal Subsistence Board will be meeting Jan. 31-Feb. 3 in Anchorage and will vote on wildlife proposals seeking to shut down or restrict deer hunting on the ABC Islands for non-federally qualified subsistence hunters.

If you live in Juneau and hunt deer in these areas, you will be affected. We encourage you to provide written comments and to call in and testify in opposition to these proposals at the FSB meeting when these proposals are heard.

Wildlife Proposal WP22-07 requests that the federal public lands of Admiralty Island draining into Chatham Strait between Point Marsden and Point Gardner in Unit 4 be closed to deer hunting Sept. 15-Nov. 30, except by federally qualified subsistence users.

Wildlife Proposal WP22-08 requests that the Northeast Chichagof Controlled Use Area annual deer harvest limit for non-federally qualified users be reduced to two male deer.

Wildlife Proposal WP22-10 requests that the deer harvest limit for non-federally qualified users in Lisianski Inlet and Lisianski Strait be reduced to four deer.

None of these proposals are necessary; the deer populations in Unit 4 are healthy, abundant, and stable. Subsistence needs are being met. All of these proposals are opposed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, as well as the Office of Subsistence Management, which helps determine if subsistence needs are being met.

The organization I represent, Resident Hunters of Alaska, is cognizant and supportive of the real needs of subsistence hunters in rural areas. We have supported federal restrictions for non-federally qualified hunters in the past based on valid wildlife conservation concerns and cooperative working group agreements.

Unfortunately, we are seeing evermore federal proposals, such as these three to the FSB, that are not based on valid wildlife conservation concerns, nor on rural hunters subsistence needs not being met. Rather, they are about reducing competition from hunters who live in urban areas.

That is not a valid reason for federal restrictions or closures to non-federally qualified hunters. Sure, most hunters would enjoy not having to compete with other hunters to fill their freezer. But that isn’t how our system of wildlife management and hunting opportunities works under the state or federal system.

ADF&G has an excellent video presentation on Unit 4 deer populations, state and federal wildlife management processes and policies, and why the Department is opposing these proposed restrictions to non-rural hunters that can we watched at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZd9YozB8f4.

All of these federal wildlife proposals and OSM analyses can be found at https://www.doi.gov/subsistence/wildlife.

These three wildlife proposals will likely be heard toward the end of the FSB meeting in Anchorage. See the meeting agenda and how to provide written and oral testimony at https://www.doi.gov/subsistence/board.

Please take the time to weigh in on these proposals and make your voice heard.

• Mark Richards is the Executive Director of Resident Hunters of Alaska. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit a My Turn or letter.

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