The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced that an any-moose registration hunt will open on March 1 in an area southwest of Galena. This is the second year that the RM831 hunt has taken place following a rapid increase in the moose population in the area.
“We’ve been watching the moose abundance increase in this area for several years, and we’re pleased to be able to offer this additional harvest opportunity for a second year,” Galena Area Biologist Glenn Stout said in a news release.
The hunt will occur in the part of Unit 21D south of the south bank of the Yukon River, downstream of the upriver entrance of Kala Slough and west of Kala Creek. This area includes the Kaiyuh Flats, where the moose population was estimated to be 1,900 to 2,500 in 2011 but which increased to 4,000 to 4,500 moose by 2018.
According to Stout, the increase prompted the department to approach the Alaska Board of Game about opening a hunt. The cause for the abrupt increase in moose numbers remains unclear, but Stout said a credible theory exists.
“We haven’t done a study specifically to identify that, but in all likelihood it stems from burns in that area,” he said, explaining that wildfires in 2005 spread across roughly 500,000 acres southwest of Galena.
“It’s pretty common when we have a fire like that — it takes about 10 to 15 years for willows to grow tall enough that they’re sticking up above the snow for the moose to browse during winter,” Stout continued. “The willow is an important food source for them during winter.”
The hunt is scheduled to run from March 1 through March 15; however, the department has established a quota of 25 moose with no more than 20 cows. If either quota is met before March 15, then the season will close. Hunters are prohibited from shooting a cow accompanied by a calf and are required to report harvested moose within two days to ensure biologists can keep tabs on the take.
Last year, the first Unit 21D Winter Moose Hunt saw low participation, according to Stout. While 19 permits were issued, only 14 hunters ended up heading out to look for a moose — and just eight of them were successful.
“It’s a winter hunt, so it’s a little tougher to get out and about,” Stout said, “but you can get to areas on the snowmachine that you can’t when you’re restricted to boat travel.
“It is still fairly new, so this is one of those things where we don’t know what to expect,” he added.
Only Alaska residents who have not harvested a moose since July 1, 2019 can participate in this hunt. A 2020 hunting license and RM831 permit are also required. Permits are available online, at the Galena Fish and Game office, and at license vendors in Nulato and Kaltag.
Successful hunters can report either online at hunt.alaska.gov or in person or by phone to the Galena Fish and Game office at 907-656-1345 or the Fairbanks office at 907-459-7206. Hunters who report by phone must also mail their permit reports within 15 days of the close of the season. Unsuccessful hunters must report within 15 days of the close of the season online at hunt.alaska.gov or by mailing their report.
Hunters are urged to obtain a receipt when they turn in their hunt reports or to mail them by delivery confirmation receipt. Hunters who fail to return reports, even if they do not harvest a moose, face losing the opportunity to receive any registration, drawing, or tier I and II permits next year and may be cited for a violation of Alaska hunting regulations.
Contact staff writer Alistair Gardiner at 459-7575. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMoutdoors.