State reissues 3,000 Nelchina hunt permits

Posted: Sunday, July 29, 2007

FAIRBANKS - The state has reissued about 3,000 subsistence hunting permits for Nelchina caribou and moose, with almost 1,300 of them going to hunters who did not originally win permits.

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The Alaska Department of Fish and Game issued the permits Friday, a week after a Superior Court judge in Anchorage ruled that the state improperly used income as the overriding determining factor in who got them. Judge Jack Smith ordered the agency to start the process over.

Among those to win permits Friday were 1,295 hunters who did not originally receive one.

Before the ruling, any applicant with a household income higher than $51,640 was "zeroed out." Those applicants received no points on other questions for ranking applicants, such as how long they had hunted Nelchina caribou and moose or their access to alternative sources of food.

The ruling followed a lawsuit filed by the Ahtna Tene Nene' Subsistence Committee and several individual hunters challenging the scoring system, particularly the income cap.

As a result of the decision, the state re-evaluated more than 8,000 applications for the 3,000 caribou and 150 moose permits in the Nelchina Basin.

This time household income was among six questions and it was worth a maximum of 20 points, with lower incomes earning higher points. Some who exceeded the income cap but had a long history of Nelchina hunting could get more points than some who fell below the income cap but had not hunted the herd, said Bruce Bartley, a Fish and Game spokesman.

A high number of permits changed hands the second time because many applicants with a long Nelchina hunt history were zeroed out in the first round because they exceeded the income limit, Bartley said.

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