YKC to discuss Emperor Goose allocation, wanton waste regulation

Emperor geese at Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. (Photo via FWS)
Emperor geese at Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. (Photo via FWS)

The Yaquillrit Keutisti (“Keeper of the Birds”) Council will meet Thursday to discuss regulations proposed by the Alaska Migratory Bird Co-management Council (AMBCC).

Among the proposals is a 2016 subsistence hunt of the Emperor Goose, the first hunting season for the species since 1987. There will be an overall harvest of 3500 birds allowed, and the YKC will look at various ways the birds could be allocated for Bristol Bay hunters.

Gayla Hoseth is BBNA Subsistence Resource Specialist and the Bristol Bay region’s representative for the AMBCC. She explained the options for how to allocate Emperor Geese include per household allocations, individual harvest tags, and local hunter’s lists.

“[All those options] are on the table,” said Hoseth. “Our council wants to make sure the bird is still protected. Our council would be happy if we could harvest a limited amount per household… We don’t want to collect an abundance of geese. People would be happy with 2 birds, 3 birds, 4 birds — based on the population size within our region.”

The return of the Emperor Goose hunt, requested by several Alaska Native groups, comes after surveys by Fish & Wildlife determined the population had surpassed a threshold of 80,000 birds. The YKC’s discussion of how to allocate geese in Bristol Bay will be taken into account at an upcoming AMBCC meeting in Anchorage.

Also on the YKC’s agenda is a proposal to change the definition of wanton waste for migratory birds. Hoseth says the AMBCC’s language will require that a greater part of the bird be salvaged.

“The Board of Game defined wanton waste for swans, geese, and cranes as breasts, legs and thighs,” said Hoseth. “Our wanton waste language is going to be more restrictive than the Board of Game’s language. Our edible meat means the meat from the breasts, back, thighs, legs, wings, gizzard, and heart. We wanted to emphasize, however, that the head, neck, feet, other internal organs, and skin are optional.”

The council will also discuss a proposed handicraft regulation that would allow Alaska Natives to sell handicrafts that use inedible parts of 27 migratory bird species.

Hoseth acknowledges that the co-management system is complex, so she urges hunters to come to the meeting to learn and offer their comments.

The proposed regulations will go to a 60-day public comment period in November.