Subsistence harvest of the Emperor goose to open in 2016

Emperor Goose. (U.S. Fish & Wildlife photo)
Emperor Goose. (U.S. Fish & Wildlife photo)

Next year Alaska will likely see a subsistence hunt of the Emperor Goose for the first time in 30 years.

According to a report by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the Emperor goose population had dropped to 42,000 due to harvest and predation by the time the species was closed to hunting in 1987.

Patty Schwalenberg is the Executive Director of the Alaska Migratory Bird Co-Management Council. She says Alaska Native groups have been asking for the goose harvest since 2012.

“The areas that have requested the harvest are the ones where the Emperor goose occurs,” said Schwalenberg. “So it’s the Kawerak Region in Northern Alaska, Association of Village Council Presidents in Western Alaska, the Bristol Bay region in Southwest Alaska, and Kodiak and the Aleutian Chain.”

Schwalenberg says the latest count by Fish & Wildlife exceeded 80,000 birds, the threshold for considering an open hunt season.

It’s yet uncertain just what that season will look like, but Schwalenberg says an overall limit has been set.

“Unfortunately, contrary to what the traditional methods are, there will be a harvest limit of 3500 birds,” she says.

The native caucus of the AMBCC will meet in Anchorage August 13 and 14 to discuss how to allocate and regulate the harvest.

Schwalenberg says the proposed subsistence hunt will go to public comment period this fall.