Eek Lake Sockeye are returning in very low numbers. The last two years of escapement data for the sockeye is dismal at best. There were less than 300 sockeye each year that were counted through the weir and validated by foot count. Numerous factors to the population decline are making it hard to put a handle on what we could do to help recover the sockeye run size back to a healthy and sustainable amount. Historically there were between 5,000 and 15,000 sockeye that returned to the system, making it a viable subsistence stream, but, the current escapement is not enough to sustain a harvest anymore. Our program will host a meeting this spring to ask local subsistence fishermen for input and support for some tough local decisions that need to be made for the long-term health and existence of the Eek Lake sockeye fishery. We have funding to conduct weir counts again this summer and look to staff it with three local tribal members.
Hetta Lake sockeye are struggling as well. This last year, there were just over 7,000 sockeye counted passed the weir. We anticipated a return of 20,000 or better from the past weir escapement index. Our community was able to harvest a large portion of the run to meet our subsistence needs as a community, but, we are harvesting about a third of the run, with just over 3,000 sockeye coming from the Hetta system in the community harvest reporting program. Again, we will be hosting an informational meeting about this project this spring. We are looking to educate our community on what we have accomplished to date with the project and some of the challenges we face moving into the future with our sockeye resources.
Hetta Lake was just selected through a competitive process to receive four more years of funding. Hetta Lake Project employs four tribal members.
HCA has been conducting wolf population surveys for the past two years. The first year was funded by the US Fish and Wildlife Agency. We were able to conduct the project partnership with the State of Alaska, USFS and the Nature Conservancy. The funding we received was $132,000.00 and went ot hire the staff and pay for the wolf samples to be genetically identified. Once the data was compiled, the area biologists were able to get a better idea of the wolf population on POW. There have been years of speculationg by outside interest groups that the wolf population was low on POW, but, the residents have been saysing otherwise. Our Project worked to find funding to engage with our local wildlife managers to see what we could do to help get a better estimate on the population of wolves in our area. The wolves directly affect the number of deer available to our local hunters to feed our subsistence needs.
The first year was very successful. We were able to learn the protocols and gathered the most samples of all the partnering agencies. Our data was able to help our local USFS manager raise the POW wolf quota from 11 wolves in 2016 to 47 wolves in 2017. They publicly stated that our work was instrumental in providing a larger quota for wolves, increasing the subsistence opportunity for POW residents who wish to hunt wolves.
Our program was awarded additional funding from the USFS Joint Chief Program of which $132,000.00 was available for wildlife projects. We utilized the funding to conduct a second year of the wolf survey project, hiring community members to go collect genetic samples (hair). We successfully completed the second season of sample collection and are currently running a trail camera project to gather as many pictures of wolves as we can, so that we know where to place our sample boards next season. All the data has been transferred to the USFS for analysis, hopefully we will see another increase in the wolf quota this year. The deer population is low in our area so whatever help we can get to increase our hunting success the better.
(907)285-3666 phone (907)285-3541 fax