ANCHORAGE - The Alaska Board of Fish and Game has re-opened the Tier II permit application for the Nelchina caribou hunt.
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For two days next week applicants may sign up for Nelchina caribou permits in Game Management Unit 13 only.
At its spring meeting, the Alaska Board of Game made sweeping revisions to the popular subsistence hunt, ranging from salvage requirements to transportation methods to income eligibility.
Whether it was dissatisfaction with the changes, or confusion over what they meant, the number of TC566 applications this spring is down substantially, with approximately 1,500 fewer this year than last.
Because the Nelchina caribou herd has shown a propensity for overgrazing its habitat if allowed to grow too large, it is in the long-term interest of the herd to have a pool of hunters sufficiently large to meet management objectives.
Before the board meeting even ended, there were threats of lawsuits. Whether potential litigants applied is unclear, but with the opening of the hunting season less than two months away, legal action at this point could throw the entire season into disarray.
In an average year, one-third to one-half of the harvest is taken in August. If the season start is delayed by legal action, it is questionable whether hunters could make up the lost harvest opportunity.
Alaska Department of Fish & Game managers were not sure what to expect for application numbers, but they expected to receive at least as many as last year. The special two-day application period is an attempt to be proactive in trying to avoid massive disruption right before the season is scheduled to open.
Next Wednesday and Thursday, June 20-21, applications will be accepted only on-line at: www.wildlife.alaska.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=inet_tierii.tieriigreet.
Applications will not be accepted by mail, FAX or hand-delivery.