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State calls off upper Kuskokwim River winter moose hunt

US Fish and Wildlife Service

The state of Alaska has announced an emergency closure of the upper Kuskokwim River winter moose hunt in the management area that includes the community of McGrath.

The hunt had been scheduled to run Feb. 1 to Feb. 29. According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, record snow levels in the McGrath area followed by an extremely late spring and green up led to a significant decline in the moose population in 2023. Surveys conducted by the state in November in a portion of Game Management Unit 19D found a 35% decline in the moose population compared to surveys conducted in 2022.

According to the announcement, none of the 15 calves collared by biologists in March in the management area survived the remainder of the winter. The local moose population faced 34 inches of snow on the ground as of the end of April, according to the announcement.

The state said that the hunt, which would normally allow residents to harvest one antlerless moose, is not sustainable at this time due to a combination of high overwinter mortality and overall population numbers well below the current population objective of 5,578 moose.

Evan Erickson is a reporter at KYUK who has previously worked as a copy editor, audio engineer and freelance journalist.
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