Fall moose hunt in Berners Bay canceled

Posted: Monday, July 02, 2007

Hunters looking forward to a fall moose hunt in Berners Bay will have to change their plans.

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The Alaska Department of Fish and Game's Division of Wildlife Conservation announced last week that the fall hunt has been canceled because more moose than normal have been found dead following the harsh winter.

"We decided it would be best to be conservative," said management biologist Neil Barten. If the numbers of bull moose are too low, it might be difficult for the population to grow or even remain stable.

Six permits had been available this year - two less than in 2006. The permits are highly sought. More than 600 applicants vied for those eight spots in 2006, Barten said.

The application period for the 2007 hunt already had ended, and the decision to cancel the hunt was made after additional field data was gathered in June.

It was determined that 18 percent of collared cow moose died during the winter, which saw 200 inches of snow fall in Juneau.

Bull moose were not counted, but it was estimated that the male mortality rate could be similar or even higher.

Portions of Berners Bay saw seven to eight feet of snow on the ground at one time, making it difficult for the moose to survive.

"That was what appears to be a cause of much of the mortality," Barten said.

Not all moose populations in Alaska are so closely watched, but the Berners Bay cow moose were being collared as part of an ongoing Fish and Game research project.

"In a lot of cases we don't even know (the population)," Barten said. The survival rate for moose in the Berners Bay doesn't necessarily indicate how other populations fared, he said.

"In Gustavus, you don't get the snow there that you get in Berners Bay," he said. Gustavus, a popular area for moose hunting, has a different weather pattern and got less snow.

Moose are hunted throughout Southeast, but not to the same extent as in the northern part of the state.

The hunting season would have started Sept. 1. All people who applied for the Berners Bay bull moose hunt drawing will be mailed a $5 reimbursement from the state.

• Contact Brittany Retherford at brittany.retherford@juneauempire.com.

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