Wetlands waterfowl hunters can get an edge with class

Posted: Sunday, August 21, 2005

Juneau waterfowl hunters gearing up for opening day Sept. 1 can get some help this year from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

A workshop from 9 a.m. to about 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 27, at the Juneau Gun Club will focus on hunting on the Mendenhall Wetlands State Game Refuge. The class will address issues regarding the residential areas surrounding the refuge, general discussions and questions concerning waterfowl hunting on the refuge, hunter ethics and a review of waterfowl regulations.

"Then participants will have an opportunity to pattern their shotguns and use different stations to shoot at clay pigeons in simulated hunting conditions," said Fish and Game biologist Ryan Scott. "This is a chance for hunters to get more familiar with their guns, make cleaner kills and potentially harvest more birds."

The cost is $10, which covers the presentations, clay targets and ammunition for test patterning the shotguns. Participants will also be given a box of steel shot ammunition to take home. Steel shot is required on refuge. Concerns about the toxicity of lead has led to the requirement that steel shot be used for hunting migratory birds in wetlands across the United States.

The teachers will be biologists Ryan Scott, Tim Peltier and Doug Larsen, and Alaska State Trooper Robert Welch. Scott Yarnell and others with the Juneau Gun Club will also be involved. Registration is not required; participants can just show up.

In recent years, residents in homes bordering the refuge have voiced concerns about hunter activity close to their properties. The class is an opportunity to address these concerns with the hunters who use the refuge.

"We'd like to eliminate any conflicts and emphasize safe practices," Scott said.

Scott said the class is informational and is not required for hunting on the refuge. But before hunting on the refuge all hunters must register with the department and carry proof of registration in the field. Registration is free and a map of the refuge highlighting boundaries and access points is provided along with other relevant materials. Hunters can register at the Fish and Game office at 802 Third St. in Douglas, at RayCo Sales or Western Auto.

Hunters on the Mendenhall Wetlands who are 15 years old or younger must be accompanied by an adult or certified through hunter education. For more information on the wetlands class or hunter education in Juneau, call the Wildlife Conservation office at the Department of Fish and Game in Douglas, 465-4265.

The Juneau Gun Club is located at 5670 Montana Creek Road. Duck season opens Thursday, Sept. 1 and closes Dec. 16.

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