Subsistence council floats plan to limit Northwest Arctic caribou hunt to locals

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A layout from the Northwest Arctic Subsistence Regional Advisory Council to connect caribou hunting on federal lands in Unit 23 to outside alcohols for one year will be up for discussion later this month at its regular converging in Anchorage.

The proposal takes the form of temporary special action solicit WSA 16-01 which, if approved, would take effect July 1 and last for one regulatory year.

“The aim the Northwest Arctic council submitted this request is for conservation resolves due to the current decline of the Western Arctic caribou herd and to ensure the continuation of existence opportunity for federally qualified subsistence users,” explained Lisa Moss, a wildlife biologist at the Intercession of Subsistence Management, before a public meeting in Kotzebue last week.

The Federal Food Board, which is evaluating the request, is authorized to close an area for maintenance of a wildlife resource or to continue subsistence use of that resource, said Moss.

The federal grounds in question include those assigned to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Gardens Service and Bureau of Land Management in Unit 23.

Hunting caribou would be off-limits for all nonfederally able users which include nonresidents of Alaska, people who have been residents in Alaska for fewer than 12 months, or Alaska in residences who live in urban and road system areas like Anchorage, Fairbanks, the Mat-Su, rts of the Kenai Peninsula, Valdez, Juneau and Ketchikan.

That subsumes affiliated tribal members who have moved and are now residents of urban precincts, a caveat several attendees, like ulette Schuerch, spoke out against during the animadversion period.

Schuerch called in from Anchorage, where she now lives, yet she was born and raised in the Northwest Arctic. She took a middle road on the tender, saying she was in favor of protecting the herd but against some of the stipulations.

“A lot of us eat to leave home for jobs, so, it’s very sad to hear that the federal administration is going to consider me a nonsubsistence user, when I’ve been a subsistence consumer all of my life, just because of where I live,” said Schuerch. “I’m an catalogued tribal member at home. My family lives up there still. I do accord with trying, but I’m upset to hear that I’m a nontraditional subsistence drug and I won’t be able to hunt at home.”

Several residents of the area spoke out in favor of the call, citing declines in the population and concern for the future of subsistence hunting.

“We are upsetting to do our rt in our area to help with the herd, so on a federal level it’s positively great to see something happening because we’re almost in crisis mode when you look at the migration bear down on later and sick bulls coming in. We really, unfortunately have to start vintage the females because the bulls are not good,” said Carmen Monigold of Kotzebue. “We’re not question for this to happen for the next 50 years. We want a trial tch for one year to see if this makes a difference. I understand to the outsider, sport-hunter, nonlocals that this order affect their income and livelihood also and I hope that they will increase that this affects our food source and our home. I hope that we can run together.”

Siikauraq Whiting, also of Kotzebue, pointed out that towns don’t have options to affordably replace caribou as a food staple, which also has a sacerdotal connection to the land.

“We’ve always wanted to make sure we have agricultural priority for hunting just because our cost of living is high. We don’t comprise the luxury of going to Costco. We don’t have the luxury of getting our food from the set asides as much. Our main diet is caribou,” she said.

Hunters from urban arenae, including several members of other regional advisory boards and the caribou between engagement group, spoke out against the request.

“I’m sym thetic to your need but in all fairness to Alaskans, I don’t dream the 5 to 7 percent (decrease in hunting) is going to make a big difference. We’re talking 400 to 500 animals, which is dialect mayhap about a week on normal take,” said Neil DeWitt of Anchorage.

A everyday handful of Arctic residents whose ability to hunt wouldn’t be checked by the closure spoke out against it, like Wilfried Zibell of Noorvik.

“We can’t in worth conscience deprive others of that which we ourselves hold so esteemed. What portion of hunters aren’t local? The vast majority of track down and caribou taken in the area are from local hunters. So, preservation ca cities of this action would be minimal. Many of those who aren’t shire and hunt here are transplants, people that used to live here, got customary to the lifestyle and moved away. Therefore, I believe that given the low conservational aid and inherent moral cost of keeping the caribou for ourselves, this conduct would be irresponsible stewardship as well as going against what we value such as courteousness and sharing. We can’t allow this to turn it into us versus them. We are one regal,” said Zibell.

The public comment period for the special action solicit is closed, but the council will take public testimony at its upcoming assignation.

This story first appeared in The Arctic Sounder and is republished here with sufferance.

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