Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Alaska to allow hunting of doomed musk oxen that float away on sea ice

Stocky, long-haired animals are poor swimmers and face certain death on ice
Initiative comes at request of tiny native hunting community

Associated Press in Anchorage, Alaska

Friday 16 October 2015 13.37 BST

Alaska big game officials have legalised an unusual hunt that will take a boat and a bold hand. Starting on Thursday, Alaska residents can harvest musk oxen that wander on to Bering Sea ice and become stranded when floes break and drift off.

Musk oxen stranded on ice are doomed to drown or starve, said Patrick Jones, assistant state area biologist.

“This occurs every couple of years,” Jones said from his office in Bethel. “It just seems like a waste for them not to harvest these animals.”

There is little chance stranded musk oxen could swim to shore in the icy waters.

“They’re just terrible swimmers,” Jones said.

The Alaska board of game changed the rule at the suggestion of residents of Mekoryuk, a Cu’pik native community of 210 and the only village on Nunivak Island, which lies 30 miles off the Seward peninsula, the projection of land north of the Aleutian Islands.

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