Goat hunt opens after four years
Fish & Game allowing up to five – if they are all billies
Valdez Star file photo
The first goat hunt in the Valdez area since 2009 opened Tuesday morning, sending local hunters out early for the eagerly awaited opening.
Valdez hunters went out in force early Tuesday morning, hoping to bring home a prized mountain goat, after the Alaska Dept. of Fish & Game opened Unit 6D for the first time in four years.
“Folks in Valdez really want to hunt in that area behind town,” said Charlotte Westing, the Cordova-based biologist for the ADF&G.
The area is described by ADF&G maps as “Port Valdez North, that portion including the mainland drainages of Sheep Creek; north of Port Valdez, Robe Lake, and the Richardson Highway; and east of Shoup Glacier.”
The tags have been available in Valdez at Prospector Outfitters since last week according to employee Kelly Letendre, who said the store had issued about 20 of the prized tags so far.
There are only mountain goats available for harvest with 50 tags available, with that in mind, Westing said ADF&G is encouraging hunters to only harvest male mountain goats.
“If everyone takes billies(males) there will be five,” Westing said in an interview last week. “A billy counts as one.”
A female, or nanny, counts as two goats.
Westing said the hunt is the first allowed in the area in four years because ADF&G has not had a good count on the area’s mountain goat population.
“We haven’t been able to do an aerial survey since 2005,” she said.
According to the ADF&G publication titled Mountain Goat Identification Quiz, hunting nannies should be avoided, though it is legal.
“Harvesting nannies can have significant negative effects on mountain goat population productivity, as well as limit hunting opportunities,” the publication says. “If you kill a nanny, you also take away offspring she would have produced to replace those animals that die from hunting and all other causes.”
The publication also has detailed color photos of mountain goats and offers several tips on how hunters can identify and distinguish nannies from billies.
Other mountain goat hunting areas within Game Unit 6D are closed.
Valdez Star photo
Kelly Letendre of The Prospector Outfitters was ready with tag applications, maps and official information Tuesday morning, the official opening of the area’s first goat hunt in many years.
Area RG266, which includes the mainland portion of Icy Bay, Tiger Glacier and Sargent Icefield, east of Cape Fairfield , and west of Port Bainbridge and Bainbridge Passage, were closed by emergency order Sept.21 according to Westing.
In addition to tags, and of course, the required Alaska resident hunting license, Prospector Outfitters offers this publication free of charge, in addition to ADF&G maps and other important information.
Mountain goat hunting is not for the faint of heart, mind or body experts say.
The elusive game animals live in terrain ADF&G describes as “steep and difficult to access.”
Hunters should be prepared to all types of fall/winter weather in difficult terrain before attempting a hunt, as well as being “well versed in survival in survival techniques and navigation skills.”
The agency also advises that retrieval of mountain goats can be extremely difficult and advise hunters “know your physical limitations and hunt within your ability.”