The Board of Game on Tuesday unanimously voted to clamp down on "proxy hunting," in which hunters can exceed limits if they give the meat to the elderly and disabled.
Proxy hunts have increased sharply in recent years, Fish and Game officials say. Some hunters reportedly abuse the practice, though they're not breaking the law.
They collect multiple proxies from senior citizens who don't need caribou or moose meat and keep the meat for themselves. Other hunters acquire proxies so they can kill more animals, thus increasing their chance of nabbing trophy game, said Fish and Game spokeswoman Cathie Harms.
The abuse is widespread but concentrated in the tightly restricted subsistence-only caribou hunt in the Nelchina Basin. The highway-accessible hunt is limited to people with decades of experience hunting the herd. Hunters with proxies sidestep that restriction.
Under the new rules, caribou proxy hunting in the basin will be limited to people who are already allowed to hunt there, Harms said. Also, a second-degree relative of a permitted elder or disabled person, such as a grandchild, can proxy hunt there.
The new regulations, passed at the board's current meeting in Fairbanks, become effective July 1 if they're accepted by the state's law department, Harms said. The second-degree-relative clause may be illegal under state statute. If so, that portion of the new rule will be removed, Harms said.
The board also struck down proxy hunting for some moose and caribou hunts in two game units in the Middle Yukon and Koyukuk river drainages, and in a sub-unit along the Canadian border.
Also shot down were proxy hunts for caribou bulls in Southwest Alaska and the upper Alaska Peninsula. In those areas, the board is trying to stop abuses in hunts that are already tightly restricted, Harms said.
Finally, the skull of every caribou, moose or deer taken during a proxy hunt must be destroyed to ruin its trophy value. Skull plates must be cut in half or an antler removed before the carcass is packed out, Harms said.
Daily News reporter Alex deMarban can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.