Winter moose: one season to close, another to open

Dec 30, 2014

The winter moose hunt in 17B, C closes at the end of Wednesday, and the 17A hunt opens at first light Thursday.

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Credit Togiak NWR

DILLINGHAM: The winter moose hunt for areas 17B and C closes at the end of Wednesday, and though it was another tough season for winter travel, hunters seemed to do ok this past month. Neil Barten is the area wildlife management biologist at the Fish and Game office in Dillingham:

"I think we're right at about 16 or 17 moose so far," he said. "There could be one out there I'm not aware of, but for the most part I think I got most reports in pretty quickly. Again that's for the RM585 hunt in 17B and C, and that closes the night of the 31st."

Successful or not, Barten reminds hunters to turn in their reports as soon as possible.

Fish and Game and Fish and Wildlife have issued an emergency order to open the area 17A hunt near Togiak on Thursday, January 1. The hunt may stay open through the January 31:

"And that hunt is actually run with two permits, one for bull moose, and one for cow moose," said Barten. " We do have quotas on those animals, so we're going to try to get 10, or just a little over 10, cow moose, and 15 or so bull moose. If the weather gets better and we get to those numbers, we will close the season by emergency order, and of course we'll make sure everyone knows what's going on."

Opening the cow and bull hunt in 17A is indicative of what Fish and Wildlife overseeing the Togiak Refuge and Fish and Game feel is a healthy moose population. An extensive survey from March 2011 suggested there were close to 1200 moose in the area, and biologists believe there have been high rates of calf production and survival since then. Barten says this hunt will be watched closely, and he’s hoping for the opportunity to do another good survey this spring:

"We're being fairly conservative with 10 (or a few more) cows, so we should be ok. Hopefully this winter we'll get enough snow in February and March that we'll be able to work with the Fish and Wildlife Service to get another survey done. Then we'll have a much better idea of where we're sitting with that population."

Permits for the 17A hunt are available at the Togiak Traditional Council building and the Dillingham Fish and Game office.