Federal Subsistence Board decides on Alaska Units 23 and 26A

Photo credit: Dreamstime

After months of deliberation and delay, the Federal Subsistence Board (the Board) has made a decision regarding the proposal to close federal public lands to the harvest of caribou and moose in Alaska Units 23 and 26A to non-federally qualified users from Aug. 1 to Sept. 30. By definition, a federally qualified user is defined as someone who is essentially a subsistence hunter.

While the original request by the Northwest Arctic Subsistence Regional Advisory Council combined caribou and moose into a single request, upon further review, the Board divided the requests into two separate concerns: WSA21-01a (caribou) and WSA21-01b (moose).

Map provided by the Federal Subsistence Board showing Alaskan closures in Units 23 and 26A

On March 30, 2022, the Board met to discuss the two issues. Here’s the result of their meeting:

  • WSA21-01a (caribou) was approved “with modification to close Noatak National Preserve (including the Nigu River portion of the Preserve in Unit 26A)” as well as BLM managed lands between the Noatak and Kobuk rivers in Unit 23 to caribou hunting by non-federally qualified users from Aug. 1 to Sept. 30 for the 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 seasons. According to a press release, this decision is considered a “reasonable compromise” as it allows for subsistence uses while limiting disruption to caribou migration. It also closes areas of “highest user conflicts” to conserve the Western Arctic Caribou Herd, which has declined by 24% over the last two years.
  • WSA21-01b (moose) was approved “with modification to close moose hunting to non-federally qualified subsistence users on federal public lands in Unit 23” between Aug. 1 and Sept. 30 for the 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 seasons. This allows for subsistence hunting within a moose population that has “declined substantially.” Moose hunting will be allowed by non-federally qualified users in Unit 26A because it is “unlikely to affect that moose population.”

What do you think? Is this a fair decision?


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