Managers have extended two Yukon moose hunts by a month due to bad travel conditions. The new end of the Yukon hunts is March 31st that’s moved back from February 28th. Phillip Perry is Area wildlife biologist for ADFG.
“Everybody that’s been here this winter understands the lack of snow and at times even lack of ice for safe travel conditions has made it hard to get around. We have a health moose population on the Yukon that can [accommodate a] harvest of a lot of moose. Understandably the harvest has been pretty low,” said Perry.
The open areas are roughly from the mouth of the Yukon north of the Kashunuk River up to Mountain Village. The remainder of unit 18 goes up to the old village of Paimute. It includes coastal areas from Kwigillingok up to Hooper Bay. It does not include the Kuskowkwim drainage.
The state does not get any real time data in season as there’s no immediate reporting requirement, but they know enough to be able to make the emergency order.
“Enforcement officers have been out and seeing how many people are hunting and they’re used to seeing quite a few gut piles on some of the island on the Yukon where we have a lot of moose, this year there’s been a couple. use the term anecdotal information, less formal was to gather data. It’s been a year where People who would normally go harvest moose, have not gone. Myself included,” said Perry.
Managers estimate that there could be strong population of 12,000 moose on the Yukon. Winter harvests have been between 150 and 200 moose over the past 5 years.
“It’s obviously not even slowing down what we’ve seen for population growth. It’s an opportunity lost more than anything if we don’t harvest moose. I don’t think there’s a biological danger if we don’t harvest moose,” said Perry.
The Yukon winter season will be longer next year as well. The board of game extended the season next year to be open until mid march.
Perry has been trying to do an aerial survey to get data on the Kuskokwim moose population, but he needs a foot of snow to be able to accurately count moose. The emergency order with more information is here.