Despite Stikine slowdown, moose total highest on record
Area hunters brought in a bumper harvest this fall, with 113 moose reported for the 2016 season by its end on Saturday.
The total ended up being the largest on record, besting the 109 harvested in 2009. That year, antler restrictions were loosened to allow the harvest of bulls with two brow tines on both antlers, allowing for better yields.
Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist Rich Lowell noted returns on the Stikine River were well below the long-term yearly average of 26 moose, with only 16 reported this year.
"Low water levels during much of the season may have limited hunter access to some extent, while the high harvest of 35 moose last year probably reduced the availability of legal bulls this season," he reported.
The lion's share of the hunt was on Kupreanof Island, the largest of the islands in Unit 3. Fifty moose were harvested there over the month-long season, a 25-percent increase over last year. Wrangell Island also saw a larger than average return, with hunters reporting seven moose this year.
Of those, one was confiscated for failing to meet regulations. Lowell noted 12 of the 113 moose were deemed illegal by state agents, 10 of which failed to comply with antler restrictions.
While no hunter is likely to be pleased to have a moose confiscated, illegally harvested carcasses get put to good use. One beneficiary is the Wrangell Senior Center, which received about 300 pounds of moose meat this year for its nutrition program.
"We're on the top of the list," said Georgia Joseph, who has managed the facility for 11 years. The center serves about 40 elders a day, five days each week. Diners can stop in to meet with friends and neighbors over a hot supper, and the center also delivers to those unable to make it down themselves.
City Market's meat department prepares the moose into roasts and burger, much of which gets used in place of beef in stews, loaves and casseroles.
"We will be using it at least three days a week til its gone," Joseph estimated. The extra moose will help the program make up for a lack of fish this summer, a result of the mixed harvest.
Lowell reminded hunters they have until today to
check in a harvested moose, which may alter the reported totals slightly. Every person obtaining a moose registration permit this year is required to submit a hunt report, even if they did not hunt.
2016 Moose Harvest for RM038
Kupreanof Island 50
Stikine River 16
Mitkof Island 15
Thomas Bay 10
Wrangell Island 7
Kuiu Island 6
Farragut Bay 5
Virginia Lake 1
Le Conte Bay 1
Woewodski Island 1