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40-Mile Caribou Season Opens with Concerns for Trails

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The state hunt for Forty Mile caribou opens tomorrow, Tuesday August 10. The hunt again has  a large harvest quota, and promises to attract high participation.  The state has a phone number for questions about the hunt and possible closures.

Since reaching a recent decades peak population of over 70 thousand animals in a 2017 count,   the Forty Mile caribou herd has declined and shown signs of poor nutrition. Managers are trying to reduce the herd’s size to avoid a crash. Tok area Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist Jeff Gross says the aim is to stabilize the population.

FMC Sustain: Q:”…of the herd.”

Last season, increased harvest objectives and higher bag limits resulted in hunters taking over 73 hundred (7,300) Forty Mile caribou during the fall and winter hunts. Gross says this fall’s harvest objective has been reduced from 5 thousand to 45 hundred, and the bag limit from 2 animals to one.

FMC population: Q:”...the true population.”

This year’s fall hunt still offers a hefty quota and harvest opportunity and Gross anticipates another large hunter turn out.

FMC Slow:   Q:”…more over time.”

Last August swarms of caribou and hunters converged in the Twelve Mile and Eagle Summit area off the Steese Highway north of Fairbanks, resulting in a rapid slaughter, and ATV damage to tundra, including on the non-motorized Pinnell Mountain National Recreation Trail.  

FMC Damage: Q:”…withstand the use.”

Bureau of Land Management Eastern Interior field office ranger Teri Balser says a lot of work was done this summer to rehabilitate the affected sections of trail, and the agency has taken steps to avoid future damage from off highway vehicles, including the development of hunting area maps.

FMC Maps: Q:”…for hunter access.”

Balser says the BLM has worked with the state and non-profit groups to educate hunters about the one-hundred-foot wide non-motorized Pinnell Mountain Trail corridor. She says the trail area will also be better marked, and patrolled by federal and state agency staff during the fall hunt.

Dan has been in public radio news in Alaska since 1993. He’s worked as a reporter, newscaster and talk show host at stations in McGrath, Valdez and Fairbanks. Dan’s experience includes coverage of a wide range of topics, from wolf control to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and dog mushing.