Game Board Scraps Salcha Moose Hunt for Youngsters

ONLY ONE: More locals would support youth season if other areas also were opened

The Associated Press / Anchorage Daily News / March 6, 2004

FAIRBANKS -- The Alaska Board of Game has scrapped a four-day hunting season around Fairbanks for children as young as 8.
The board decided to discontinue the Take a Child Hunting season Thursday because it was restricted to an isolated area and had lost the support of a local advisory committee.

"It's the same old thing -- people don't want it in their back yard," said board member Cliff Judkins of Wasilla.

The hunt, created three years ago, allowed youngsters 8 to 17 to hunt moose in early August as long as they were accompanied by an adult with a license. The idea was that it would encourage more youth hunting because parents wouldn't have to take their children out of school to go hunting.

While the board agreed the concept is good, the hunt raised the hackles of local moose hunters who didn't appreciate sharing the area with hunters from other parts of the state.

"There's probably nobody in this room who is against the concept of taking kids hunting," Fairbanks board member Pete Buist said. "At the same time I don't think everybody agrees this is the way to do it."

During public testimony last weekend, several Fairbanks hunters complained to the board about the youth hunt.

"It's the only kids' hunt in the state, and we don't feel it should be concentrated in one spot in the state," said Dave Miller, one of several cabin owners on the Salcha River who spoke out against the special season.

The Fairbanks Fish and Game Advisory Committee supported the hunt two years ago because members thought there would be similar hunts in other parts of the state, committee chairman Mike Tinker said.

"We stuck ourselves on a spear and got hung there," he said.

The committee would support another Take a Child Hunting season if similar hunts took place in at least five areas, Tinker said.

According to statistics from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, most of the moose shot during the four-day hunt were taken by local hunters.

Board members expressed support for youth hunting and instructed the Department of Fish and Game to come up with more youth hunts in the future.

"We need to expand these, not cut them out," said board member Ted Spraker of Kenai.

State biologist Don Young noted that there are opportunities to take kids hunting during the regular season.

"If you add one day to Labor Day weekend you've got the same exact hunt," he said. "Most people felt it was unnecessary."

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