The Alaska Department of Fish and Game admonished the Federal Subsistence Board on Friday for the closure of federal lands in Alaska to non-federally qualified users, claiming there was “no biological justification” for the move.

On July 17, the Federal Subsistence Board announced a number of actions, including the closure of federal lands in Game Management Unit 13 to the hunting of moose and caribou by non-qualified users.

The board stated in a news release earlier that it “approved a closure in Units 13A and 13B only for the 2020-2022 regulatory cycle due to its necessity for reasons of public safety and continuation of subsistence uses. The Board limited the closure to Units 13A and 13B because this is the area where most overcrowding, disruption of hunts, and serious safety concerns have occurred.”

On Friday, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game published its own statement, strongly opposing what it referred to as an “illegal closure.”

“The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is the principal manager of this herd and strongly opposed this action. There was simply no biological justification to close this hunt to non-federally qualified hunters,” the statement reads.

The department went on to note that a state-authorized youth hunt for caribou opens Saturday and reminded the public that state land remains open to hunting.

“This hunt provides Alaskans, whether rural or urban, an opportunity to pass on the hunting heritage that makes Alaska unique,” the department wrote. “Taking away this youth hunt on federal lands is an unjustified intrusion into state management rights gained at statehood and reinforced with the passage of ANILCA,” the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980.

The state is now exploring its options to challenge this “unnecessary and illegal closure of federal lands to non-rural hunters.”

Contact staff writer Alistair Gardiner at 459-7575. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMoutdoors.