Matanuska – Susitna Borough drivers run down hundreds of moose each year on their travels to and from Anchorage. Now a special hunt, called a “targeted hunt” allows winter hunting to reduce the number of moose near roadways. The hunt was established by the state Board of Game in 2011.
The hunt was established by the state Board of Game in 2011. Palmer area state wildlife biologist Todd Rinaldi [ rin ALD ee] says the hunt is targeting ” nuisance moose”
“Whether its an injured moose that had an issue with breaking an ankle, or was involved in an automobile collision and is spending a lot of time around humans. It may be a cow and a calf that is excessively aggressive, or it may be a moose that has been harassed by dogs and since has become more defensive around people.”
Nuisance moose tend to hang out around cleared roadways, or in people’s back yards. When moose congregate around highway corridors, some motorists are injured or killed when they hit the 900 pound animals.
Rinaldi says motorists kill 280 moose a year, normally, but during winters of extremely deep snow, that number can double.
Rinaldi says more than a thousand hunters have signed up for this year’s winter hunt, which starts on January 6. Two hundred permits will be issued for Unit 14 A and an additional 100 permits for Unit 14 B. This is how it works. Each week, eight hunters will be assigned to a designated road corridor where moose vehicle collisions are high. Only shotguns and bows can be used.
“Some of these hunt areas that we have designated at high areas of moose collisions are actually on the edges of city limits or in developed neighborhoods. So we use shotguns, ten gauge and twelve gauge only, because of their reduced velocity as well as bow and arrow, so that if the opportunity arose, we could direct hunters into some of these more developed areas or into some of these areas where firearms are restricted.”
He says officials collect data indicating areas of high collision rates from the state, and further analyze those areas for hunt suitability. They are Knik Goose Bay Road, Pittman Road in Wasilla, the Parks Highway north of Big Lake and the Glenn Highway between Palmer and Sutton
“We’ve really been focusing on mitigating moose-vehicle collisions over the last year, and that’s why the hunt is expanded a little bit more. Because it’s been demonstrated over the last two winters that hunters can go out on the landscape and harvest moose along roadways in a very effective and safe manor. “
He says there is no data available yet to indicate that the hunt is actually reducing moose-vehicle accidents. That data will be ready in a year or two.
Last winters hunt harvested 148 moose. Rinaldi says Unit 14 A is over populated with moose, and the extra hunt keeps the population down.
Eligible hunters needed to have applied by the end of last October for a permit, and successful applicants were required to have completed a state hunter education program. Hunters on private land must have the permission of the land owner.
The department and Alaska Wildlife Troopers will conduct random checks to ensure hunters comply with permit conditions and conduct themselves in a safe manner.