by Jackie Bartz
Channel 2 News
5:26 PM AKDT, September 14, 2011
The Alaska Supreme Court listened to arguments Wednesday over the legality of a popular caribou hunt.
The Nelchina caribou herd in the Copper River Basin is one of the few herds accessible by the roadways, but hunters argue that the way the Alaska Board of Game authorized some hunting permits is unconstitutional.
Several years ago, the Board of Game set aside a community harvest hunt for Ahtna Inc.
Superior Court Judge Carl Bauman ruled the that the hunt illegally favored rural hunters.
Since then the hunt has been reworked, but it still includes a community harvest.
"This case is really about a long and evolving process to which the Board of Game has found a way to harmonize the subsistence statute with the constitution," John Starkey, attorney for AHTNA Inc., argued in court today.
Under Alaska's constitution, any Alaskan can be considered a subsistence user.
"The board is saying people that don't live in these Ahtna rural villages are second-class subsistence users," Mike Kramer, the attorney for Alaska Fish and Wildlife Conservation Fund, said.
Kramer wants the Alaska Supreme Court to rule that the community harvest hunts are unconstitutional.
Contact Jackie Bartz at email@example.com
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