March 21, 2022

ACTION NEEDED: Hearing to Close 43 Million Acres In Alaska to Non-Local Hunters Scheduled for March 21

Article Contact: Keely Hopkins,

Contact: Keely Hopkins, Manager Pacific Region

Why it Matters: Closing state-regulated hunting of healthy wildlife populations will unnecessarily deprive non-local hunters, both native and nonnative, of subsistence and non-subsistence use. Scientific studies and firsthand observations have determined the level of activity in these areas is not delaying caribou migration, and there is not currently a shortage of moose or caribou in these units to warrant a closure.

The Federal Subsistence Board is once again considering a closure that would restrict non-locals, both Alaskans and non-residents, from accessing 43 million acres of federal public lands for caribou and moose hunting in Game Management Units 23 and 26a. The Northwest Artic Regional Advisory Board will be hosting a public hearing on March 21 from 3:00pm-6:00pm ADT and all sportsmen and women are encouraged to call-in to the meeting and voice your opposition to the closure. This will be the last opportunity to weigh in on this critical issue before the Federal Subsistence Board votes on the proposal at their March 30 meeting.  To join the hearing, please call 1-800-779-2712 and enter the following passcode: 5653753.

Closing federal land will not improve caribou numbers, affect migration, or provide additional subsistence hunting opportunity. The 2021 survey of the Western Arctic Caribou Herd found there are now an estimated 188,000 caribou. This population can still provide a harvestable surplus of 11,300, which is enough to meet the Amounts Reasonably Necessary for Subsistence established by the Board of Game. This closure also interferes with the Alaska’s Department of Fish & Game (ADFG) mandate to manage fish and wildlife for the greatest benefit of all residents on a sustained yield basis.

CSF testified at the first public hearing in April 2021, where the proposal was deferred, and will be joining our fellow sportsmen and conservation organizations to testify against the closure at the March 21 hearing. CSF has also been working with our in-state partners and the Alaska Legislative Outdoor Caucus on this topic and would like to thank the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for their strong leadership on this issue. Last week, Director of Wildlife Conservation Eddie Grasser and Deputy Commissioner Ben Mulligan traveled from Alaska to brief the American Wildlife Conservation Partners (AWCP) on this proposal during their meeting at the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference. AWCP is comprised of over 50 national hunting and conservation groups (with CSF serving as a member of the Board of Directors) and has circulated the public hearing information to all partnership organizations. CSF will continue to keep you updated on the status of the proposal and other issues impacting hunting, fishing, trapping and recreational shooting in Alaska.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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