State wildlife officials are opening up the limited hunt for muskox on the Seward Peninsula five months early, a move officials say is a direct result of the animals’ continued presence close to Nome.
A Monday release for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game moves the hunt for bull muskox in Unit 22(C) from January 1, 2015 to August 1, 2014. Despite starting earlier, the season will remain open until its scheduled mid-March closure.
In a statement from the Fish and Game office in Nome, biologist Tony Gorn wrote he’s “not sure the hunting of a few muskox around town is the silver bullet” but adds that the early hunt might help “change the distribution of muskox groups to move them further from town.”
Only five muskox bulls can be taken in the annual subsistence harvest. Applicants must answer a questionnaire testifying to their subsistence needs. The five permits are issued in a lottery drawing of qualified applicants.
Three bulls can be taken in the unit roughly between the Snake and Nome Rivers (the area known as TX095), but only by bow and arrow, shotgun, or muzzleloader. An additional two bulls can be taken with no weapon limitations in the larger area that roughly forms a half-ring around Nome (known as TX096) from the Penny River to Safety Sound.
Despite the change, Gorn with Fish and Game urged all permit holders to check with wildlife managers before embarking on their hunt.