GMU 13 map

Caribou hunters in Game Management Unit 13 will have an additional 10 days of hunting this month.

The Department of Fish and Game is extended the hunt for Nelchina caribou in Game Management Unit 13 as part of the department's effort to increase the harvest.

The department, through an emergency order, extending all Unit 13 caribou — YC495, RC561, RC562, CC001, and DC485 — from Sept. 21 to 11:59 p.m. Sept. 30.

The bag limit remains one caribou for all Unit 13 state-managed caribou hunts, a Monday notice from the department reads.

"The department’s July 2019 post-calving survey estimated the Nelchina herd at approximately 53,500 caribou – well above the upper limit of the population objective of 35,000–40,000 caribou," the announcement reads. "Too many caribou can over-graze a herd’s range, leading to malnutrition or starvation. Sometimes caribou will leave an over-grazed range or join up with adjacent herds for areas of better forage."

A herd survey from earlier this year shows high calf productivity and survival with 17,650 calves and 35,850 adults on the landscape, the department announcement states. "This is a departure from last year, when calf recruitment through the winter was low and July aerial surveys revealed fewer than average new calves for the year."

Game Management Unit 13 is south of Fairbanks. It encompasses the Richardson Highway corridor and the Copper River region to the east and south and runs along the far side of Denali National Park and Preserve to the west.

The department also anticipates the winter season to remain open for all hunts although there is no assurance of a significant number of caribou being available in Unit 13 over the winter.

Contact the newsroom at 459-7572.