Lynx hunting, trapping season closed for several years

  • By Rashah McChesney
  • Tuesday, November 18, 2014 11:03pm
  • News

It’s the end of a cycle for lynx and area hunters of the short-tailed cat will likely not get another chance at them on the Kenai Peninsula until about 2020.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game sent a reminder in early November to hunters and trappers, in part because this year’s closure of the two game units on the Kenai Peninsula deviated from the way the lynx season has been restricted during previous years.

Lynx, which are on roughly a six-year abundance cycle on the Kenai Peninsula, were typically taken primarily by trapping and snaring. In the past, when lynx trapping seasons were closed, hunting was still allowed because harvest by that method was minimal, said Fish and Game area biologist Jeff Selinger.

During the 2008-09 lynx season, roughly 6 percent of the lynx harvested were shot, but by the 2013-14 season nearly 40 percent of the harvest was reported as being killed with a gun, according to Fish and Game data.

“What we’ve seen recently is a real increase in people using the predator calls and an increase in predator calling in general,” Selinger said.

The result of that renewed interest is a higher percentage of the lynx being shot rather than snared or trapped.

“So, before, when we had a handful of lynx taken during the hunting season, I could leave that open … but I can no longer afford to keep the hunting season open when the trapping season is closed,” Selinger said.

Lynx populations are tied to snowshoe hare populations which are its largest food source. When hare populations become scarce, lynx populations drop within a few years as well, Selinger said.

While there are no population estimates for hares or lynx on the Kenai Peninsula, biologists monitor the population by surveying hunters and trappers and looking for signs of snowshoe hares in the area, Selinger said.

The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge keeps data on the snowshoe hare population and Selinger said Fish and Game uses refuge data in addition to its own, to determine when the seasons should be closed.

Lynx aren’t the only predator population tied to hares.

“When the hares go high, you see more avian predators and you see more coyotes,” Selinger said.

Hunters will still be allowed to harvest snowshoe hares.

“Typically the harvest levels (of hares) never reach a point where we’re afraid that they’re going to supress that population,” Selinger said.

The last six-year cycle of abundance for lynx resulted in some of the highest harvests on record for the animal. The harvest peaked during the 2011-12 season when 456 were reported killed on the Kenai Peninsula.

Selinger said the hare population was expected to rebound and would benefit from the same recent changes in the environment as area moose because the two populations share a food source.

“In the winter they’re browsing on twigs and they’re eating bark,” he said. “So, when people say the wildfire will make good habitat for moose — it should be good habitat for hares as well because they eat the same things.”

 

Rashah McChesney can be reached at rashah.mcchesney@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

Vehicles are unleaded at the Seward Harbor after being moved from Lowell Point on Sunday, May 22, 2022 in Seward, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management)
Lowell Point barge services move 110-plus cars to Seward

The services were covered by the Kenai Peninsula Borough and ended Monday

Anglers fish on the Kenai River on Tuesday, June 29, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O'Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Watershed Forum receives matching grant from Conoco

The Kenai Watershed Forum was given a grant from ConocoPhillips to fund… Continue reading

A beach on the eastern side of Cook Inlet is photographed at Clam Gulch, Alaska, in June 2019. The Alaska Board of Fisheries is implementing new shellfish regulations in Cook Inlet. (Peninsula Clarion file)
Fish and Game closes East Cook Inlet razor clam fisheries

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has closed the Cook Inlet… Continue reading

Anastasia Scollon (left) and Willow King (right) stand in The Goods + Sustainable Grocery and Where it’s At mindful food and drink on Monday, May 16, 2022 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Sustainable shopping finds new home in Soldotna

The Collective used to operate out of Cook Inletkeeper’s Community Action Studio

The Alaska State Capitol is seen on Wednesday, April 6, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Legislature modernizes 40-year-old definition of consent in sexual assault cases

‘Alaska took a gargantuan step forward in updating our laws,’ says deputy attorney general

Project stakeholders cut a ribbon at the Nikiski Shelter of Hope on Friday, May 20, 2022, in Nikiski, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Stakeholders celebrate opening of Nikiski shelter

The shelter officially opened last December

Peter Segall / Juneau Empire
Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks with reporters Thursday about the state’s budget at the Alaska State Capitol. Dunleavy said lawmakers had sent a complete budget, and that there was no need for a special session.
Dunleavy: No need for special session

Governor calls budget “complete”

A magnet promoting the Alaska Reads Act released sits atop a stack of Alaskan-authored and Alaska-centric books. Lawmakers passed the Alaska Reads Act on the last day of the legislative session, but several members of the House of Representatives were upset with the bill, and the way it was passed. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
In last-minute move, Legislature passes early reading overhaul

Rural lawmakers push back on Alaska Reads Act

Graduates wait to receive diplomas during Connections Homeschool’s commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Connections honors more than 100 graduates

The home-school program held a ceremony Thursday in Soldotna

Most Read