The Federal Subsistence Board (Board) has approved Emergency Special Action WSA18-04 with modification to close the Federal (Nov. 1 – Dec. 31, 2018) winter cow moose season and close moose hunting on public lands in Unit 23 except by Federally qualified subsistence users. This closure will expire on December 31st, 2018.
There are serious population viability concerns for the Unit 23 moose population due to dramatic declines in population estimates, low calf:cow ratios, and likely exceedance of the harvestable surplus. Since cow moose are the keystone to population growth, conserving cows is essential to maintaining a healthy moose population. Cow moose harvest is not recommended in a low density, declining population. Closing the cow season should help the Unit 23 moose population recover more quickly and prevent further declines.
Closure to non-Federally qualified users to all winter moose hunting is warranted due to the limited harvestable surplus and to allow for continuation of subsistence uses. If sustainable harvest is limited, hunting by Federally qualified subsistence users should be the priority consumptive use on Federal public lands in accordance with Title VIII of ANILCA. While approval of this special action reduces opportunity for Federally qualified subsistence users by not allowing the harvest of cow moose, they will still be able to harvest bulls during the winter season under Federal regulations without competition from non-Federally qualified users.
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