Hunters continue to have success shooting moose on the mainland and islands around Petersburg, Wrangell and Kake. However, the high number of illegal moose shot during the month-long season is also climbing.
The third week of the season saw hunters shooting another 25 bull moose, bringing the season total to 81 animals with a week left in the hunt. Six of the 25 killed last week did not meet the state’s strict antler requirements, bringing the season total of illegal moose to 13. The restrictions are in place to protect middle age breeding males to continue the species.
Alaska Department of Fish and Game area wildlife biologist Rich Lowell writes that number of illegal moose is a cause for concern. So far, they’ve been have spread out among five different parts of the hunting area. Mitkof and Kupreanof Islands near Petersburg have both had four illegal moose each. If the illegal harvest was not spread out, Lowell writes Fish and Game would likely have had to close some hunting areas. The department is evaluating whether to let the season run its course or close some areas.
The total harvest is on pace to match or beat the record-setting year of 2009. That season saw 79 moose killed by the third week and a final tally of 109.
Hunters have had the most success on Kupreanof Island near Kake and Petersburg with 32 animals coming from there. Another 19 have come from the Stikine River and 13 from Mitkof Island. Hunters have killed seven in Thomas Bay north of Petersburg and three on Kuiu Island. The remaining moose have come from Farrgut Bay, Virginia Lake, Wrangell Island and the mainland near Wrangell along with Zarembo, Etolin and Woewodski Island.
Unless there are early closures, the season runs through October 15th.
In other local hunting news, archers and rifle hunters have killed four bull elk so far in the Etolin Island elk hunt in September and October. One elk was taken by a hunter during the drawing permit hunt in September open only to bow hunting. So far, another three bull elk have been killed on Etolin during the first rifle drawing permit season October 1st through the 15th. A second rifle season is open the second half of this month as well.