The Alaska Board of Game last week approved proposals to prohibit hunters who harvested a nanny mountain goat to hunt the following year and to extend the black bear baiting season.

The proposals were reviewed by the Upper Lynn Canal Fish and Game Advisory Council in December. The council approved the proposal that the majority of its members hope will disincentive nanny harvests in an effort to conserve the herd. The Board of Game amended the proposal to prohibit non-resident hunters from harvesting nanny goats.

“I was glad to see (the proposal) pass with the amendment about non-resident hunters…only able to take billies,” said advisory council chair Tim McDonough. “The amendment does more to protect the goat population which is fine with me.”

Goat populations have declined in the Takinsha Range and Kicking Horse areas since 2016, according to Fish and Game aerial surveys. Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist Carl Koch said the amendment will do more to protect nannies because nonresident hunters typically don’t care about penalties for shooting nannies.

“In areas where it’s a five-year penalty, if it’s a nonresident hunter, they don’t care how many years it is; they’re not coming back,” Koch said.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game discourages shooting nannies and prohibits killing nannies with kids. Females don’t breed until they are four to six years old and young goats have a high death rate. Females also don’t reproduce every year. The loss of too many females could cause a population decline to a level that allows little or no hunting opportunity, according to Fish and Game biologists.

“While we do have a huntable population amongst some of the subunits, nearly half of the areas with populations are teetering on the huntable/emergency closure line. Nannies not accompanying a kid can be harvested. The committee wants to see this stopped. Numbers show that in Unit 1D, people are hunting any goat and not targeting billies,” the advisory council wrote in its proposal.

Fish and game data indicate that about 40% of females harvested were done so knowingly, not as a result of misidentification. Between 2010 and 2020, 30% of harvested goats were nannies. Since 2016 the state has required goat hunters in the Haines area to take a quiz that involves identifying nannies. But Koch said the quiz has resulted in only about a 5% drop in the average portion of nannies harvested.

Not all area hunters are happy with the regulation change. Long-time hunter Kevin Shove said he doesn’t think hunting is impacting the goat population.

“I disagree with it,” Shove said. “They already have a point system that has worked for decades. Winter recreation has decreased the goat population, not hunting.”

Although the advisory council voted 7-2 against extending the baiting season, the Board of Game approved the proposal submitted by Skagway resident Adam Smith. Smith proposed extending the black bear baiting season by two weeks to align with the black bear hunting season, which ends June 30.

“More fluid and consistent dates make abiding by the law not only easier but also creates a two-week longer window of opportunity for hunters,” Smith said in his proposal.

The regulation changes don’t take effect until July 1 of this year, meaning black bear baiting will still end on June 15, 2023, but the goat hunt change will go into effect in 2023.