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Kotzebue Caribou
Posted by art on May 04 2006
I feel I have to chime in on this.  I'm currently working on this issue myself, specifically the action taken on proposal 142 at the March meeting.  I believe in the BOG process very strongly.  However, in this instance bad precedent is being set.  Back in November prop. 142 was discussed and tabled.  The Western Arctic Caribou Herd Working Group met on Nov. 12 and produced a document that weighed heavily on the board decision.  The problem is that the document makes several recommendations to the board yet the action the board took on 142 doesn't reflect what the working group recommended. Specifically, the part limiting non-residents to 1 caribou per year.  Considering that residents of GMU23 can shoot 10 caribou per day all year, and state residents can shoot 5 caribou per day all year, why are the non-residents being limited to one caribou a year?  It used to be five, the proposal 142 asked that it be reduced to 2, and the board amended it based on this report and concern for public safety.  If I had to guess who is wasting the meat, I would guess that it is the guys shooting ten or five caribou a day. The folks up there should be a little less RACIST, yup, I'm going to go there!  Yeah, I'm not going to beat around the bush.  They have threatened people, there have been shooting incidents and that is just not nice.  If they are concerned about wanton waste, how bout maybe setting up a meat processing facility up there employing locals.  I'm sure many out of town hunters would gladly pay to have their meat processed and that would bring some money to the community, but what I see happening is that now with the precedent that is being set other communities can just be hostile and shoot at outsiders in the hope that the BOG will reduce bag limits and discourage people from hunting there in the name of public safety.  I've spent a lot of time in rural communities and I fully understand not wanting people hunting in your back yard but it is a public resource and public land.  There are already laws on the books concerning tresspass and wanton waste issues.  The real problem is enforcing those laws.  I just think that the working group could have come up with something more creative than limiting non-residents to one caribou per year.  If I had to guess I'd bet that a lot of the wanton waste is done by Alaska residents (which I am).  I've done a lot of hunting and a lot of people just don't really know how to take good care of their meat.  In fact, most people don't know how to take really good care of their meat.  Anyway, the board will be meeting on March 12 and I am going to try and encourage them to reconsider the action taken on 142 (they can reconsider it since the March meeting never formally adjourned), I would prefer that they just pass the proposal as written which still substantially reduce the NR limit to two caribou per year which is reasonable.  There is also a petition that has been sent in asking the board to increase the limit for non-residents to more than the one that would be allowed should the action taken on 142 stand.  I would hope that my fellow hunters will talk to the BOG members and support the petition or give a board member some new information so they can make a motion to reconsider.  Because I'll tell you what, next time around the folks in Kotzebue will be asking the board to drop the hammer on AK residents not living in GMU23.  And I fully support anything that can be done to make people take better care of their meat but I still feel strongly that it is not just a NR issue.  The bottom line is that the herd is at a high level (500,000 animals) and there is no biological justification to reduce anyone's limit especially if by law a Resident of GMU 23 could harvest 3650 caribou a year....that is a huge disparity compared to the limit allowed previously and currently by Nonresidents.  Nuff said, I hope anyone at the meeting will support this.

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