(Anchorage, AK) – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit issued its decision on a Federal Subsistence Board appeal today, in which the State of Alaska challenged the Board’s authority to open an emergency hunting season near Kake and to close portions of Unit 13 to non-federally-qualified hunters. The Court’s decision recognizes that Alaska can seek judicial review of federal overreach of game management on public lands.
On the Board’s authority to open emergency hunting seasons, the 9th Circuit agreed with the State that the issue is not moot and remanded it back to the Federal District court.
“We appreciate that the Ninth Circuit agreed that whether the Federal Subsistence Board can open hunting seasons the state has closed is capable of repetition and would otherwise evade review” said ADF&G Commissioner Doug Vincent-Lang. “We believe the law is clear and we look forward to defending our interpretation.”
The 9th Circuit also vacated the decision to close areas in Game Management Unit (GMU) 13 to moose and caribou hunters for two years, if the hunters are not rural residents. The Alaska Constitution does not differentiate between subsistence users based on locality or income and does not allow for the State to enforce such laws. Additionally, Alaska has programs in place to monitor the health of animal populations and base harvest requirements on the health of the population.
“The decision to restrict who can hunt for caribou and moose in GMU 13 did not reflect the views of State biologists,” said Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor. “This decision was made regardless of science or research from individuals on the ground and impacts how Alaskans plan their hunts and fill their freezers. Our assertion is that Alaskans know how to manage our resources.”