Recently, the Federal Subsistence Board (FSB) held public hearings to discuss multiple fish and wildlife proposals, including three proposals that would limit deer hunting in Southeast Alaska. Wildlife Proposal 22-07 (closing Admiralty Island to deer hunting from September 15th to November 30th), Wildlife Proposal 22-08 (reducing the bag limit from six deer to two bucks), and Wildlife Proposal 22-10 (reducing the bag limit from six deer to four deer) were all directed at non-federally qualified subsistence users. The FSB ultimately declined to adopt the proposals, which keeps all Sitka black-tailed deer hunting open.
The FSB accepted written comments before and during the meeting. Prior to discussion of the first of the three proposals, the Board acknowledged that over 1,100 written comments had been received in opposition to the three proposals. SCI encouraged its members to reach out to the FSB to oppose the proposals. In just three days, over a thousand SCI members sent emails to the FSB.
In addition to written comments, the FSB accepted oral public testimony. Among the organizations that spoke out against the closures were SCI, SCI’s Alaska Chapter, Resident Hunters of Alaska, and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, along with a number of individuals. SCI’s comments emphasized that not only did each proposal lack state and federal support, but each runs counter to the directives set out in the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (known as ANILCA) and the Federal Subsistence Board’s implementing regulations. Both ANILCA and the regulations limit the situations in which non-subsistence hunting can be closed to either a demonstrated conservation need, or to preserve subsistence hunting opportunities. None of the three proposals met either standard.
When each proposal came down to a vote, seven out of eight FSB members voted to reject the proposals as they failed to meet the criteria set forth in ANILCA. SCI empathizes with the subsistence users but applauds the FSB for following the law. This is a huge win for hunters, wildlife, state management and conservation efforts in Alaska.