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Regional advisory council meets, votes on POW proposals

Daily News Staff Writer

The Southeast Alaska Subsistence Regional Advisory Council met last week and made decisions pertaining to hunting in Unit 2 (Prince of Wales and islands off its west coast).

The council met for three days and mulled a number of proposals submitted by individuals, groups and the council itself.

The council will ultimately submit its recommendations to the Federal Subsistence Board for final consideration.

A major proposal, WP18-02, was met with unanimous approval. The proposal allows access for all subsistence hunters in Units 1-5 to hunt deer in any of those units regardless of where they live.

A draft statement analysis by the council included the following: “People in Southeast Alaska travel from home to other communities for many reasons, such as to visit family and friends, to harvest wild resources, for (potlatches) and other cultural celebrations, to return to traditional clan and (tribe) territories, and for other reasons. At these times, they need to be able to continue long-standing patterns of hunting. Currently, they are not able to because of a patchwork of customary and traditional use determinations, a legacy of state subsistence management in the 1980s.”

The Office of Subsistence Management was supportive of this big change, which, if approved by the Federal Subsistence Board, would ultimately alter the very nature of subsistence hunting throughout all of Southeast Alaska.

Another proposal, WP18-01, which sought to reduce the harvest and season for deer in Unit 2, was met with mixed reviews by the council. The council voted to support reducing the annual harvest, but rejected changes to the season.

It is worth noting that, according to council documents, the OSM opposed proposal WP18-01.

Wolves in Unit 2 also were discussed, with the council recommending increasing the harvest quota of wolves in the unit.

WP18-04, which passed with a vote of 9-2, would increase the harvest quota from 20 percent of the measured wolf population to 30 percent. The OSM opposed the measure; in addition six individuals submitted public comments also opposing it.

The final proposal pertinent to the region, WP18-06, dealt with bears and was summarily rejected by the council, with not a single member voting in favor of it.

The proposal had called for a longer season to hunt black bear in Unit 2 as well as doubling the harvest limit from two to four bears.

The OSM opposed the measure, which was originally submitted by the Klawock Cooperative. The cooperative believed that bears were harming deer populations on POW.

The three proposals that the council approved, WP18-02, WP18-04, and part of WP18-01, will now go to the Federal Subsistence Board, which will make the final decision on these changes.