Palmer – Hunters in the Matanuska and Susitna valleys are making local roads safer this winter, even as they fill their home freezers with tasty, organic, wild meat.
The “targeted hunt” (AM415), initially established by the Board of Game in March 2011 to address serious nuisance-moose issues in Game Management Subunit 14A, is a winter hunt, which requires a permit from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The department has increasingly used this permit hunt to reduce the number of moose-vehicle collisions in the Mat-Su, and the board expanded the hunt to include areas along the road system in Subunit 14B during a March meeting in Wasilla.
“One of the main objectives is to reduce the number of moose around roadways in high-collision areas and move them into the freezer without involving an insurance agent,” said Palmer Area Wildlife Biologist Todd Rinaldi.
Some 280 moose are struck and killed by motorists each year on Mat-Su roadways. During winters of unusually deep snow, that number can double as moose tend to congregate around highway corridors. Motorists are frequently injured and sometimes killed when vehicles traveling at normal highway speeds collide with the animals which may weigh between 500 and 900 pounds.
This winter’s hunt will open on January 6, and is scheduled to remain open through March 30. Each week, eight hunters will be assigned to one of four designated road corridors, where rates of moose-vehicle collisions tend to be especially high. The number of hunters permitted each week may be increased if the number of moose-vehicle collisions remains high or increases as snow accumulates over the course of the winter. The permits will also be issued for two additional areas in Subunit 14B, along the Parks Highway, to reduce moose-vehicle collisions in those areas. The department also issues permits to address moose problems on private property on a case-by-case basis after consulting with the landowner.
“Last winter we had a 75 percent hunter success rate”, said Rinaldi, who added that more than 1,100 prospective hunters signed up for this winter’s targeted hunt.
To be eligible to participate, hunters had to apply during the open application period from October 1-31. Applicants were required to have successfully completed a certified state hunter education program prior to applying for the hunt, and a bow hunter education certificate is also required to participate in some areas. Because the hunt occurs near populated areas, only shotguns and bows, which have shorter trajectories than rifles, can be used.
Permitted hunters must have land owners’ permission to hunt on private land, and hunters will be required to wear a hunt-specific orange vest issued by the department to identify them as permitted hunters. The department and Alaska Wildlife Troopers will conduct random field checks to ensure hunters comply with permit conditions and conduct themselves in a safe, ethical, and legal manner.
For more information on the Mat-Su targeted hunt, contact Todd A. Rinaldi, Area Wildlife Biologist, at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s office in Palmer at (907) 746-6325. Additional information about this hunt can also be found in the 2013-14 Alaska Hunting Regulation booklets, as well as on the department’s website (http://hunt.alaska.gov).