FAIRBANKS, Alaska In a press release put out by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game it was announced that the bull moose hunting season in a portion of Game Management Unit 20B will be 5 days shorter for the second consecutive hunting season.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game issued an emergency order to reduce the hunting season length in that portion of Unit 20B in the Salcha River drainage downstream from Goose Creek and upstream from and including Butte Creek, southeast of the Moose Creek dike within a half mile of each side of the Richardson Highway (except Birch, Harding, and Lost Lake closed areas), and the portion called “20B remainder” in the Alaska Hunting Regulations. This includes the majority of the road accessible area in Unit 20B. This is the same season reduction that occurred last hunting season.
This fall, residents of Alaska will be allowed to hunt bull moose during September 1-15 in these areas and nonresidents will be able to hunt September 5-15. These season changes were published in the 2019-2020 Alaska Hunting Regulations that is currently available.
The moose survey conducted in November 2017 showed that the bull-to-cow ratio had declined to 17 bulls per 100 cows, well below the department’s management objective of 30 bulls per 100 cows.
“This bull-to-cow ratio has been declining for the last several years and is likely due to a harvest rate that is too high for this population”, said Tony Hollis, Fairbanks Area Management Biologist. “Reducing the season length will help the ratio recover”.
Unit 20B historically had a 15-day moose season, but during 2011–2017, the bull moose season was increased to 20 days long. In 2009, the moose population was estimated at 18,000-20,000 moose, well above the management objective of 12,000-15,000 and too many moose for the available habitat. To lower the population to levels within habitat capabilities, the department expanded moose hunting opportunity. This included increasing the bull moose season by 5 days starting during the 2011 hunting season.
The fall 2017 moose population estimate of approximately 12,871 moose indicates that the moose population has now been reduced to an appropriate level for the amount of available habitat; however the bull:cow ratio is below the objective of 30 bulls per 100 cows.
The ratio of 30 bulls per 100 cows is desirable in order to ensure that adequate numbers of bulls are available to breed cows in the fall and to provide good opportunity for moose hunters in the area. “It is likely that we will continue with the 15-day hunting season in the future to maintain the bull:cow ratio”, said Hollis.
Moose hunting season dates will not change in other portions of Unit 20B this year, including the Minto Flats Management Area, the Fairbanks Management Area, and the Middle Fork of the Chena River and Salcha River upstream of Goose Creek. Those are areas have more difficult access and fewer moose are harvested annually.
“The reduction in season length targets that portion of Unit 20B that has the best access, the most hunting pressure, and the highest moose harvest”, said Hollis.
Hollis urges all hunters that hunt moose in Unit 20B to read the 2019-2020 Alaska Hunting Regulations before they head out hunting and make sure they know the season dates in the area they plan to hunt.