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FAIRBANKS - Sled dogs in Alaska's Interior could be eating better this winter. Subsistence fishermen began harvesting fall chum salmon on a portion of the Yukon River on Tuesday evening.
Managers from the state Department of Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service do not feel the run is strong but consider it healthy enough to sustain some harvest.
Historically, the fall chum run has helped sustain sled dog teams in villages that dot the rivers where there is subsistence fishing.
Biologists feared that this year's fall chum population could be as low as 250,000. But the species has nearly surpassed that projection midway through the run. New projections now put the run between 400,000 and 500,000.
That's still below the minimum of 600,000 needed for a full subsistence take, but it is enough to allow a limited harvest. Managers are staggering openings to allow more fish to reach spawning grounds.