Game

 

The Alaska Board of Game has approved a plan to reduce the number of mountain goats in southwest Alaska but stopped short of adopting all goat-hunting measures proposed by Kodiak hunters.

The Board of Game took up the three Kodiak proposals Monday as part of a scheduled three-day meeting that has stretched to five days.

At the meeting in Kenai, Alaska Department of Fish and Game regional supervisor Larry Van Daele explained that goat populations in southwest Kodiak Island have reached a point that may be unsustainable.

Last year, members of the Kodiak’s fish and game advisory committee created a goat subcommittee to address the issue. They proposed extending the goat hunting season by 90 days, increasing the bag limit to two animals, and creating a rule that counts goats shot in southwest Kodiak Island separate from the normal statewide bag limit.

The third element of the proposal would have allowed hunters to kill two goats in southwest Kodiak Island, then another elsewhere in the state.

After some deliberation, the Board of Game agreed that implementing the third element would create enforcement problems for Alaska Wildlife Troopers and Fish and Game staff.

As a compromise measure, it amended the local proposal by striking the third element and a requirement in the raised bag limit that would have required hunters to send their first goat out of the field before taking the second.

Enforcement problems also killed a second proposal from the local goat subcommittee.

If accepted, that proposal would have counted a wounded goat as a killed goat when considering bag limits. In testimony before the Kodiak advisory committee, proponents, said the measure would prevent hunters from taking shots at difficult-to-reach animals and would encourage proper hunting practices.

At the Board of Game meeting, Alaska Wildlife Troopers said that while the measure is well-intentioned, it would be “difficult to enforce.”

“In reality, wildlife troopers will have a very difficult time locating a wounded or wasted dead goat and linking it back to the hunter,” trooper Lieutenant Bernard Chastain wrote in comments to the board. “Prosecutions of these types of cases have been minimal or non-existent and they rely primarily on the ethics of the hunter to follow the regulations.”

Ken Marsh, a spokesman for the Department of Fish and Game, said the board also took into account the fact that goats are abundant in the area, so taking more animals is not a major concern.

The Board of Game also turned down a proposal from Ugak Bay Lodge owner and master guide Brian Peterson, who asked that deer hunting be curtailed in order to spur recovery from last winter’s intense conditions.

In testimony to the local advisory board, Van Daele said deep snow and cold temperatures killed more than half the archipelago’s deer. Despite that, weather — not hunting pressure — remains the biggest factor in deer population growth, he said.

Reached by phone, Peterson said he agrees that weather is the biggest thing determining the health of Kodiak’s deer, but reducing hunting would have helped the population come back sooner.

“It’s just going to take a lot longer for the deer to come back,” he said.

Contact Mirror editor James Brooks at editor@kodiakdailymirror.com.

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