The Lower Kuskokwim moose hunt closed Friday at midnight and hunters are required to report their catches within 24 hours. With the numbers in for the most part, the harvest has barely missed the quota managers were after. They wanted 100 antlered bull moose to be taken and they now have 102 confirmed kills.
A few harvest reports could still trickle in, but Spencer Rearden, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the hunt went as planned.
“We went six days which is right in there with what we planned on how the hunt would go,” Rearden says.
Managers are still determining exactly how many moose were harvested on state land versus federal land but they expect that will also fall very close to their goals: 81 on state land and 19 on federal land.
Federal land is located up the tributaries and state land is the area along the main stem of the Kuskokwim.
Phillip Perry is the Area Management biologist with the state and he says having the hunt run 6 of the 10 days is a good sign.
“I’m hopeful that getting to the quota faster, that means we have more moose out there,” Perry says. “And that’s what we hear from hunters too is, you know, they saw lots of cows with calves.”
Federal and state managers will partner up to conduct two moose surveys on the Lower Kuskokwim this winter. They are planning a composition survey in November to see what the sex ratio is among the population and then a regular population survey in February.
Depending on what those numbers show, the quota for next year’s moose hunt could very likely go up.
“Hopefully, we see a good increase in moose numbers and we hope to provide more opportunity for people in the future here,” Rearden says. “We’re walking that fine line where we’re trying to have some harvest, allow some subsistence harvest, and at the same time we’re trying to grow moose populations. It’s real important that we keep this tightly managed to reach our end goal here.”
That goal would be a healthy population of about 2,000 moose.
The last time a population survey was conducted was 2011.
The deadline to turn in RM 615 moose tickets is September 25. That goes for all permit holders.
“Mail them, drop them by, however they want to do it,” Perry says. “Looks like there are a pretty healthy handful that have reported on-line already. And they can report those on-line pretty quickly. Not every body has internet access but lots of people do.”
Nearly 1,400 permits were handed out for the Lower Kuskokwim moose hunt.