A Short-Lived Victory: Federal Subsistence Board Defers Caribou, Moose Closure

The Federal Subsistence board recently decided not to close Alaska federal land units 23 and 26A to non-local caribou and moose hunters in 2021 and deferred a decision to 2022. The request came from the Northwest Arctic Subsistence Regional Advisory Council who provided no scientific justification for the closure.

The Sportsmen’s Alliance participated in a public comment call on April 23 to express our position that public land closures should be based upon scientific evidence, rather than politics and emotion. Thanks to our comments and many others opposing the public-land closure, these lands will remain open in 2021.

While the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) allows the Department of Interior and the Forest Service to close hunting on federal lands to everyone except federally qualified subsistence hunters (as defined here), these types of closures should only occur when game populations are at a level that can only sustain subsistence hunters. If subsistence hunters can procure the meat they need in conjunction with other hunters, both hunts should occur.

“These decisions have the potential to set dangerous precedent for how wildlife and federal public lands will be managed in the United States,” said Bruce Tague, vice president of government affairs at the Sportsmen’s Alliance. “All federal lands should be open to everyone unless the science requires a different course of action.”

But as Tyler Freel points out in an Outdoor Life article, more attempts at closures to non-locals are on the docket.

“Already, more proposals are being generated for exclusionary closures of federal land to non-local hunters in Alaska. Three Wildlife Proposals—WP22-07, WP22-08, and WP22-09—are all set for the next cycle of federal subsistence hunting regulation changes, and are only open for public comment through July 19, 2021. Find information on how to comment on these proposals here.”

About the Sportsmen’s Alliance: The Sportsmen’s Alliance protects and defends America’s wildlife conservation programs and the pursuits – hunting, fishing and trapping – that generate the money to pay for them. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation is responsible for public education, legal defense and research.  Its mission is accomplished through several distinct programs coordinated to provide the most complete defense capability possible. Stay connected to Sportsmen’s Alliance: OnlineFacebookTwitter and Instagram.