This year’s Nelchina subsistence caribou hunt closed for the taking of cows at midnight Thursday ni
ght. The hunt has been going well, according to state Fish and Game area biologist Becky Schwanke in Glenallen. She says as of Friday 1,160 caribou have been taken in the subsistence hunt, which is still open for taking bulls.
Schwanke says the area’s community hunt has taken 52 animals and the Unit 13 drawing hunts have taken 169 animals
The Nelchina caribou hunts are accessible by road and are popular with hunters. But there is some squabbling over who gets to hunt the animals, and some organizations have taken an opposing stand against state qualifications for the community hunting permits.
This week, justices of the Alaska Supreme Court listened to arguments concerning the constitutionality of the Community hunt, which was authorized by the state Board of Game in 2009, but was challenged in court. John Starkey, an attorney for Ahtna, Inc, the Alaska Native Corporation from the Glennallen area, could not be reached for comment Friday but had argued that the Community hunt is constitutional.
Michael Kramer, an attorney for the Alaska Outdoor Council, said that the community hunt excludes people who don’t live in the Ahtna villages.
Earlier, a state Superior Court judge ruled the Community hunt illegally favored rural hunters, so the Board of Game reworked the rules for the Community harvest, and it has gone forward this year. The AOC is also challenging this year’s Community hunt in Superior court in Fairbanks.
Under the state constitution, all Alaskans are eligible for subsistence use of a resource.
The state Supreme Court has not handed down a decision in the case yet.
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