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Spring migratory bird hunt opens in Alaska

April 15th, 2017 | Bristol Bay Times-Dutch Harbor Fisherman Print this article   Email this article  

The annual spring/summer federal subsistence migratory bird hunt opened April 2. The hunt is open to qualified rural residents around Alaska.

For the first time since 1987, hunters can legally take emperor geese this spring. Togiak Refuge's deputy manager Allen Miller says he would like hunters to remember that emperors are still a fragile population.

"Because the number of emperors has just got barely gotten back to a legally huntable level," Mr. Miller said. "We are encouraging people to be conservative in their thoughts on harvest and their methods of harvest especially."

Emperor geese don't typically re-lay eggs for a second time, so hunters are encouraged to leave eggs in the nest. Emperors also travel in family units, so Miller recommends hunters should take aim for lone single birds.

There is a long list of species available for harvest during spring hunt, most of which Miller says can sustain hunting pressure better than the emperor geese.

"The black brant population, the Canada goose population, the cackling geese, and the white front populations are doing considerably better than emperor geese," Miller said. "There are other good alternatives out there."

The Alaska Migratory Bird Co-management Council says the population objective for emperor goose is 34,000 birds with 28,000 being a harvestable population. The restrictions on emperor geese will be reviewed annually.

Miller hopes the Bristol Bay community hunts responsibly and recognizes the fragility of the goose population.

"We are not talking about millions of birds, we are talking about a bird that is exclusive to Alaska," Miller said. "They don't go to the lower 48. There aren't as many of them as there are other species of birds."

For Bristol Bay, the spring migratory harvest opened April 2 and continues through to June 14. There will be a month long break then the summer hunt will last from July 15th until the end of August.

State hunters are required to have a state license and this year a federal duck stamp is not needed for qualified rural residents. Lead shots are not allowed and there are few restrictions on bag limits or the type of firearms used.

Full rules and regulations are available online.


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