Wildlife biologists concerned by illegal hunting of ptarmigan
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is concerned about reports of residents on the southern Kenai Peninsula illegally hunting ptarmigan.
Fish and Game Wildlife Biologist Jason Herreman said there have been a few instances of illegal hunting of ptarmigan around Bald Mountain and Caribou Hills since the season closed at the end of January.
Fish and Game shortened the season by two months in 2015 to help recover the ptarmigan population to historic numbers.
“The idea was that by shortening the length of the season, folks would still have a chance to go out and harvest a few birds,” he said. “But a majority of the harvest that occurred later in the season after we had good snow and good travel conditions would be curtailed so the population would have a chance to expand again.”
Herreman said though Fish and Game doesn’t have specific estimates, the ptarmigan population has been low for years.
“We don't know for sure what the cause was for the decline, but likely overhunting had to do with it,” he said. “We had good ease of access out there once folks really started using snow machines to access that area, so that really seemed to increase harvest.”
Herreman adds that biologists are seeing some positive signs that the ptarmigan population is coming back. But the population still falls short from its historic numbers and Fish and Game is urging hunters to follow regulations.