Newsletter 11 - July 2022
In This Issue
Pictured: Tyler Loken, President of the RHAK Heritage Foundation (center), with Eddie Grasser, Director of the Division of Wildlife Conservation (left), and Ginimaria Smith, Program Coordinator for the Hunter Information and Training program.
RHAK Heritage Foundation and RHAK Donate to the Rabbit Creek Rimfire Range
The RHAK Heritage Foundation – dedicated to youth hunter education efforts – made a big splash when president Tyler Loken gave a $21,000 check toward major improvements to the Rabbit Creek rimfire range to the Alaska Department of Fish & Game. Improvements to the rimfire range will include covered and heated shooting positions. Donations came from several individuals and we can’t thank them enough! RHAK also donated $5,000. The RHAK Heritage Foundation is a 501 c3 non-profit and donations are tax deductible. You can donate at www.rhakheritage.org.
RHAK Banquet Was Outstanding!
Thank you to everyone who attended and donated to the RHAK Banquet and Fundraiser this spring at the Egan Center in Anchorage! It had been two long years without a banquet and it was great to see some 400 people getting together again in support of RHAK! We were able to raise $80,000+ toward continuing our advocacy for resident hunting opportunities across the state.
Fairbanks RHAK members Austin Smith, Rebecca Davis, John Wisniewski, Mark Richards, Steve Shannon, Rich Doering, and Jeff Pentek working on replacing boardwalk.
RHAK Members Volunteer Again In 2022 For Repairs To The Pinnell Mountain Trail
Members from Resident Hunters of Alaska, the Fairbanks Fish & Game Advisory Committee, the Interior Alaska Trails & Parks Foundation (IAT&PF), and Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, spent a beautiful Saturday in early June in the White Mountains north of Fairbanks working on mitigating damages to the Pinnell Mountain Trail caused by hunters during the 2020 Fortymile caribou hunt.
New boardwalk was installed plus reseeding of areas damaged by ATVs. After the work, RHAK and the IAT&PF sponsored a cookout for all the volunteers and BLM staff. Thanks to everyone who helped! And a big thank you to RHAK members Lenny & Diane Jewkes for supplying the moose burgers; they were a big hit with everyone!
Board of Game Report
The legislature approved the appointments of three more guides to the Board of Game this spring, making for a total now of five licensed guides and one retired guide on the seven-member board.
We want to thank our members who called and/or wrote in during confirmation hearings and joined RHAK in opposing any more guides (regardless of class of license) on the board. Our opposition was never personal; it was about adhering to the statute that says that board appointments should be based on “providing a diversity of interests and points of view in the membership.” Having a majority of the board made up of guides is not at all a diversity of interests and unbalances the board (real or perceived) in favor of commercial hunting interests.
For the State of Alaska to allow the sole body that determines all of our hunting seasons, bag limits, and allocations, to be made up of a voting majority of guides is a clear indication that our system of wildlife management is broken. RHAK will continue to lobby in Juneau for structural changes to how our Board of Game membership is chosen and how it functions.
In some good news, at the January 2022 Central/Southwest meeting, the board narrowly passed on a 4-3 vote RHAK proposal #206 as amended to extend the resident even-year spring brown season in parts of Unit 9. There will now be an extra 6-day resident-only season May 26 – 31 on even years in parts of Unit 9 beginning in 2024.
Federal Subsistence Board Report
Caribou & Moose hunting closures in NW Alaska
The Federal Subsistence Board voted unanimously in March to close caribou hunting on federal lands by non-federally-qualified users (NFQU) in Units 23 and 26A. The caribou closure impacts lands within the Noatak National Preserve (including the Nigu River portion in Unit 26A) and BLM-managed lands between the Noatak and Kobuk Rivers in Unit 23. The board also closed all moose hunting on fed lands by NFQU in Unit 23. Read the news release here: https://www.doi.gov/sites/doi.gov/files/nr-wsa21-01-unit-23-caribou-moose-closure-faqs.pdf
Sheep closure request Brooks Range
Wildlife Special Action Request 22-02 to close sheep hunting for all users in Units 24A and Unit 26B west of the Sag River (see https://www.doi.gov/sites/doi.gov/files/proposed-wirac-wsa-dalls-sheep-units-24a-26b-final.pdf) was set to be heard and voted on by the Federal Subsistence Board on June 22nd, but the board voted 4-3 to defer consideration until their late-July work session meeting. RHAK has testified in opposition to WSA 22-02. You can read our comments here: RHAK Comments WSA 22-02.pdf.
If you are considering going sheep hunting off the haul road this fall in these areas, be forewarned that it could be shut down just prior to the season opener. Evermore federal control over the state’s ability to manage our fish and wildlife is a growing concern and RHAK continues to be involved in FSB issues and in trying to make changes to how the FSB operates.
Superior Court Rules Against Cassell Complaint
Superior Court judge Andrew Guidi, in a surprisingly brief opinion in May 2022, ruled against Bob Cassell’s lawsuit against the state and Board of Game regarding the high allocation of Kodiak brown bear draw permits to nonresident hunters being unconstitutional. RHAK has intervened in support of the lawsuit. You can read the decision, along with all the court briefs and documents, on our website here. We expect the decision to be appealed and eventually make its way to the Alaska Supreme Court. If you’d like to donate toward Mr. Cassell’s legal fees and have a stake in this, information on how to donate is on the above link.
RHAK at Tanana Valley State Fair
RHAK will have our booth at the Tanana Valley State Fair in Fairbanks from July 29 – August 7. Stop by and visit if you attend the fair and it’s always a good time to renew your membership. If you have time to help work a shift at the fair, contact Mark Richards in Fairbanks. It’s always a fun time to reconnect with friends and enjoy some fair food!
RHAK Raffle Ends July 31st Get Your Tickets Now!
1st prize in our raffle package is a liveaboard deer/bear/seaduck combo hunt for six on Hinchinbrook Island in late October this year! Get five of your friends to buy tickets and if any of you win you can all go on this fantastic hunt. Tickets are $50 each, 3 for $100, or 7 for $200. We are selling out so get your tickets before the July 31st deadline! Purchase tickets online at: https://event.auctria.com/654580e6-236c-4891-8d85-ab776d1fe42a/
ADF&G’s New Mobile App
It’s been in the works for a while and the Alaska Department of Fish & Game recently announced their new mobile app. You can now have your hunting/fishing license and tags on your phone and present those to enforcement should they contact you and ask to see your license and tags. Download at: https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=home.mobile_app