Waterfowl hunters must be permitted by the state before hunting in the Mendenhall Wetlands State Game Refuge this year because of complaints about stray gunshots hitting nearby homes in recent years.
The permit requirement is an effort by the state Department of Fish and Game to educate hunters about the housing developments near the refuge.
"We'll give them information on why (the permit is) necessary and a map of the layout of the refuge and what areas have housing developments," said Neil Barten, a Fish and Game biologist.
Barten noted that hunters will have to carry the permit while hunting.
Hunting on the refuge runs from Sept. 1 to Dec. 16. The refuge is open for hunting waterfowl, snipe and cranes. Shooting hours at the refuge run from a half hour before sunrise to sunset.
Fish and Game and the Juneau Gun Club will host a waterfowl hunting clinic Saturday, Aug. 30, to educate hunters about discharging firearms at the refuge and to help them improve their hunting skills.
Barten said typically about 600 to 800 hunters use the wildlife refuge in a season.
Most hunters stay a safe distance from residential areas, Barten said. But he added that some homes have been hit by gunshots in recent years.
Last year, a homeowner near the refuge submitted a proposal to the state Board of Game to close a portion of the refuge to ensure public safety. But Fish and Game adopted its own proposal requiring hunters to register with the department.
"You can't really fault the homeowners for not wanting their house to get hit," Barten said.
Permits can be picked up at Western Auto, Rayco Sales, the Department of Fish and Game in Douglas or at Fish and Game's waterfowl clinic on Aug. 30.
Permits are free, and the clinic costs $10.
The clinic will provide information about waterfowl hunting regulations, hunting at the refuge and practicing ethical hunting behavior. It also will include information on patterning stations, identifying optimum loads for shotguns, information on range estimation and clay target shooting under simulated hunting situations.
The $10 fee covers the cost of clay targets, patterning ammunition and a box of steel ammunition for clay target shooting. Those who attend can bring additional ammunition.
Timothy Inklebarger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.