As the solstice sun waxes to its highest and longest peak in our summer sky, an anxious AKBHA community hurries to fit it all in before the snow returns. Let us be reminded of the 250 million acres of federal public lands available in Alaska for our enjoyment, which are brimming with adventure opportunities and a wealth of wild game and fish to supplement our manufactured menus.
WSA 16-01 - This Wildlife Special Action was approved by the Federal Subsistence Board (FSB) on April 18, 2016, which closed Federal public lands to caribou hunting to all non-local hunters for at least one year. The Board cited “sufficient evidence” indicating that the closure was necessary to allow for the subsistence priority AND for the conservation of a healthy caribou population. The only evidence they or anyone has offered is local opinion, not science-based reasoning for the closure.
Below is public meeting footage obtained in July, 2016 concerning WSA 16-03 and its relation to WSA 16-01. This video gives an overview of the state’s position and public/native opinion. Sets the stage for the project, so while it’s not a sexy video, it’s worth the time investment as an orientation to the issues.
Natives claim non-local hunters and airplane traffic are causing the herd to disperse, stall and avoid traditional byways during the early migratory period. Locals used the Regional Advisory Committees as the strength to motivate the FSB to action. The FSB also bypassed the state’s game management plan for this herd, which reported that the herd has not yet reached the population threshold that warrants restricting non-local hunters. We agree with the Alaska Department of Fish & Game on this, and our goal is to collect the facts from the field and present our position as backcountry hunters. Along the way, we’ll demonstrate how to effectively and responsibly hunt this region for caribou, despite the closures.
Chapter work continues with focus on membership, education and outreach to strengthen our grassroots foundation and provide organizational structure with momentum. Two important areas of focus are bonding with our military community and building a Regional Advisory Team (RAT), starting with Anchorage and then Juneau, Bethel, and Kotzebue. Our plan is to present adventure topics to our military hunters at Eielson AFB, Ft. Wainwright, as well as JBER in Anchorage, with hopes of highlighting Alaska hunting opportunities and ethical field behavior. The RAT members will help our chapter stay well informed on important regional issues and will bridge the gap of linear distance between our Fairbanks headquarters and the front lines of battles to keep public lands available for hunting, fishing, recreation and spiritual growth.
This is an exciting trajectory for AKBHA and the perfect year to share your views of our purpose with your closest friends who appreciate Alaska’s wild public lands.
Please contact us to learn how you can get involved in Alaska BHA!