The Association of Village Council Presidents (AVCP) Administration and Executive Board urge compliance after hearing about the illegal harvest of “Bison No. 124” near the villages of Eek and Quinhagak by a local resident.
According to the ADF&G, Division of Wildlife Conservation Press Release dated January 31, 2017, Bison No. 124 was part of a herd of 130 wood bison released in April and June 2015 in the lower Innoko and Yukon rivers as part of the “Alaska Wood Bison Restoration Project.” She was a young cow that explored that area extensively and then eventually ventured south this winter. It was thought that she might lead to an expansion of the herd into the Lower Kuskokwim area.
AVCP understands the need for subsistence and residents having the ability and the right to hunt and fish in our traditional areas but, this case is different. The newly reintroduced wood bison to southwest Alaska are nowhere near the numbers needed to be able to justify a hunt and, it will likely be 5 to 10 years before one could even be discussed. That will only happen if these animals are left alone to grow and thrive.
AVCP urges residents to heed the protection of these animals. As with the musk ox traveling off of Nelson Island into mainland territories, these wood bison could eventually become a stable food source that will be available for generations and generations. Vivian Korthuis, AVCP CEO, adds, “I have received calls reminding us of how successful our region has been bringing back migratory birds and moose. Elders are encouraging all of us to think of the future when it comes to the bison and protect them now so we can see benefits in the future.”