Well I might be crying “wolf” but the future has bad possibilities if you urban guys want to hunt rural Ak. registration hunts for free. Here’s what’s happening.
Last winter, Corey Rossi, Cliff Judkins, and Bob Bell went up to Shish to hunt Ox on a reg. permit. They all 3 hunted with the guide there and all 3 got decent bulls. They knew about the trophy destruction, but were hoping to get some art work/carving done on the horns and use that as the trophy destruction. Didn’t fly. Long story short, they had the destruction done and later got their heads. Judkins wasn’t too happy. He was recently quoted in our local paper, openly expressing his displeasure with trophy destruction.
The result of this scenario is proposal 223 for the Mar. 4-11, BoG meeting in March. The BoG submitted this proposal themselves. The purpose of the proposal is to review the Depts discretionary authority, under 5AAC 92.052, to use trophy destruction. It is possible the BoG will remove this item as “discretionary authority”.
So how does this effect you all?
Currently, the Dept uses trophy destruction as a means to deter hunters from participating in certain hunts. The unit 22 Ox registration hunt is an example. Trophy destruction does not FORBID anyone from hunting. It just causes some hunters to CHOOSE not to hunt. This works well enough that hunts using trophy destruction have very few other “discretionary authority” restrictions. Both the unit 22 Ox hunt, and the 21 and 24 Moose hunts are open to all Alaska residents with unrestricted numbers of permits. It is likely that if trophy destruction is removed from these hunts, hunter participation and resulting harvest will rise. This will force the Dept. to use other discretionary authority means to limit hunter participation. The most likely means will be to have permits available only in certain locations and only at certain times. End result will be that few non locals are able to get the permit.
The real problem here has not been trophy destruction per se. The problem is the way the Dept. uses trophy destruction. In addition to having the authority to use TD, the dept. also has the authority to choose the trophy destruction level. The unit 22 Ox reg. hunt began with a level of 3 in of the horn tip being removed. Then last year, the Dept. raised the level to cutting the horn at eye level, unit wide. We did need the increase in the 22C hunt close to Nome, but the rest of the units had no problems. Especially the 22E hunt where Judkins hunted. That hunt has a high quota and has yet to even come close to reaching the quota by the Mar. 15 season closure. There was no reason for the increase in destruction there and it could even be argued the level could have been lowered to allow for more hunter participation. Dept. staff in Nome has refused to use TD level as a means to deter hunters from high participation hunts and move them to low participation hunts.
The unit 21 and 24 hunts are going well according to the area Bio, but I suspect that some sub units could have had TD levels removed or lowered without substantially increasing harvest. I asked the area bio why he doesn’t set quotas for the 21 and 24 moose hunts. His answer was that harvest levels are continually well below allowable harvest and thus no quota is necessary. If harvest levels are below allowable, hunter participation and harvest could be increased. But a total removal of TD in the entire 2 units would likely lead to problems that occurred in the past.
You can help. The BoG meeting will be in Anch. Again, Mar 4 -11. Testify at that meeting. Talk to your local AC. This proposal could have far reaching effects. Additionally, the Region 5 supervisor (units 18, 22, 23,and 26 are region 5) is in Anchorage. His name is Steve Machida. Stop by and talk with him. I’d be happy if you told him what a poor job he has done in supervising the use of TD out here.
Of course, you can just do nothing, in which case you’ll continue to see MY Ox hunt pictures (hopefully from that private herd again) and not your pics!!