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The Southeast Alaska Subsistence Regional Advisory Council will meet in Ketchikan this week to discuss and make recommendations regarding proposed changes to federal regulations that govern subsistence harvests of wildlife in the region.

On the agenda will be several proposed changes to federal regulations for the subsistence harvest of deer in Game Management Unit 2, which includes Prince of Wales Island.

The council will take public comment on the proposed regulatory changes, and we encourage interested individuals to participate in the process.

The Southeast Alaska Subsistence Regional Advisory Council comprises members from around Southeast Alaska. None are from Ketchikan, but four are from Prince of Wales Island. This is the entity within the federal subsistence regulatory process that knows southern Southeast Alaska best, and it should be aware of local views and concerns.

Unfortunately, federal subsistence regulations have been controversial in this area over time, particularly in regard to deer harvest management in Unit 2. A federal responsibility to manage wildlife on federal land for a rural subsistence priority has resulted in a lower level of opportunity for residents who reside the Ketchikan area designated as nonrural to harvest deer on federal public land in Unit 2.

The current set of regulations is more restrictive than in the past on non-federally qualified subsistence users — who now are allowed a harvest of only two male deer on federal public lands in Unit 2, down from four male deer prior to 2018. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has submitted a proposal to rescind the two-deer limit and return to a four-deer cap.

The proposal and others will be considered by the council, which will make its recommendation to the Federal Subsistence Board. The Federal Subsistence Board is scheduled to make a decision on the proposals early next year.

The process is public, and, this year, the council is meeting in Ketchikan from Tuesday through Thursday at the Cape Fox Lodge. The full set of agenda materials are available on the federal Office of Subsistence Management website at: https://www.doi.gov/subsistence/regions/se_materials.