- Associated Press - Monday, January 27, 2014

BETHEL, Alaska (AP) - The number of moose allowed to be harvested along the Kuskokwim River may be increased as state game managers prepare for fly-overs for a more accurate count of the population.

KYUK (https://bit.ly/1esFhJ8) reports the current quota of 100 moose allowed per year has remained the same the last four years. However, Phillip Perry, the area wildlife biologist for the state Department of Fish and Game, says state and federal fish and wildlife officials plan on flying the river this winter for a more current census. He said the last census was in 2011 when 700 moose were counted along the main stem of the Kuskokwim. An additional 300 were counted along the lower tributaries of Alaska’s second longest river.

“What we anticipate is whatever that number is we will base just the quota. If it grows by 30 percent, the quota will probably grow by 25 or 30 percent. If it grew by 30 percent, 30 percent of the quota ends up being about 30 more moose,” said Perry.

Perry said there are indications the moose population has grown fast enough since 2011 to be 1 ½ to two times the previous count.

Game managers will also try to observe the twinning rates from the air - the portion of cows with twin calves. Such a rate is a determination of quality of habitat and availability of food. The lower Kuskokwim currently has a high twinning rate.

Perry said if better snow conditions come about, the surveys could be completed in 10 to 12 flying days. Currently the region does not have enough snow for an accurate moose census.

Perry said the lack of snow is slowing hunters traveling to and from the Lower Yukon where a hunt is open.

“It may just change when they harvest them. We still have enough time during next 5 weeks of the season we could still harvest the same number of moose. It may be shifted a little farther back than in other years,” said Perry.

Perry noted there is plenty of food available for moose and so far the current winter is “probably pretty easy on them” with the lack of deep snow.

Besides moose, musk ox were spotted in the Bethel area in December.


Information from: KYUK-AM, https://www.kyuk.org

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