If you were thinking of hunting muskoxen this year, bad news: the hunt has been closed, due to early illegal take.
Alaska Department of Fish and Game managers say the closure affects Game Management Unit 23, leaving the hunts on the Seward Peninsula still open.
Early illegal harvests of cow muskox have prompted the pre-season closure, since the quota has been met before the July 1 opening. In mid-May, Wildlife Troopers reported at least 5 cow muskoxen from the Cape Thompson population were shot illegally and left un-salvaged in January or February 2013.
According to the Department, the population of muskox in the area has been in decline since 2005, prompting conservative management. This year’s spring population estimate in the traditional survey areas was 227 muskoxen, 34 percent less than the high in 2005.
A bull-only harvest rate of 2.5 % was as applied to the population yielding a quota of 6 bulls for subsistence hunting opportunity in regulatory year 2013-2014.