PALMER — Hunters in the Matanuska and Susitna valleys this winter are making local roads safer even as they fill their home freezers with wild meat.
The “hot-spot hunt” program, initially authorized in the Mat-Su by the Board of Game in March 2011 to address vehicle-moose collisions and serious nuisance-moose issues, is a winter hunt open by registration-only.
“One of the main goals is to reduce the number of moose around roadways in high-collision areas,” Olin Albertson, a Palmer Area Wildlife Biologist, said.
Currently, a total of 12 hunters per week are assigned to areas surrounding one of four designated road corridors in Game Management Subunit 14A where rates of vehicle-moose crashes tend to be especially high. Areas include the Glenn Highway between Farmer’s Loop and the Chickaloon River bridge, Knik-Goose Bay Road, the Church and Pittman roads area, and the Parks Highway between Big Lake and Nancy Lake. Moose may be taken in these and other areas by hunters who have been issued hot-spot permits.
“We have a 60 percent hunter success rate as of now,” Albertson said.
He added that more than 200 prospective hunters signed up for this winter’s hot-spot hunt.
Open registration for Mat-Su hot-spot hunts was Oct. 1-31. This winter’s hunt opened on Dec. 1, and is scheduled to remain open through March 30. Permits are randomly numbered based on the number of applicants and hunters are selected weekly in numerical order. Permits are awarded only to applicants certified by recognized state hunter education programs. Since some hunt locations are close to populated areas, only shotguns may be used and slugs are required. Shotguns have shorter trajectories than rifles. Hunters must have land owners’ permission to hunt on private land.
Hot-spot hunts operate at the department’s discretion; specific hunt areas may rotate in-season and closures may occur as biologists monitor hunter success, moose numbers, and weather conditions that may affect moose movements and survival.
Some 280 moose are struck and killed by motorists each year on Mat-Su roadways. During winters of unusually deep snow, that number can double as moose tend to congregate around highway corridors. Motorists are frequently injured and sometimes killed when vehicles traveling at normal highway speeds collide with the animals which generally weigh 300-1,500 pounds.
For more information on Mat-Su hot-spot hunts, contact Palmer Area Wildlife Biologist Olin Albertson at 907-746-6325, or email firstname.lastname@example.org