Wildlife troopers cite Nome woman in illegal musk ox killing

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NOME, Alaska — A Nome woman has been cited by Alaska State Wildlife Troopers in connection with the killing of a musk ox.

Diana Adams was cited last week for taking a musk ox out of season in the Icy View subdivision, KNOM (http://is.gd/cU8L0y ) reported.

Adams, 59, could not immediately be reached for comment Monday. But she told the radio station last week that she has "been charged with illegal taking of game" and has no comment.

Herds of musk oxen have been loitering close to town and wildlife officials have been looking for a solution to deal with about 150 animals loitering locally. The large shaggy animals have killed or injured pets and damaged property

Attempted deterrents have included rubber bullets, bear decoys and bear urine, but those have proven unsuccessful.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game Biologist Tony Gorn said the best strategy so far has been moving the herds on a case-by-case basis.

"We've been diligently moving musk ox groups when people call us," he said. "We go out and we move the herds away from the backyard, or the airport, or wherever the case might be."

The department is opening a subsistence hunt early for the animals.

But only five animals can be killed beginning Aug. 1 because the musk oxen population in the entire region is shrinking, and the stock must be conserved. Because of the proximity to town, rifles are not allowed. Hunters can use only shotguns, bows and muzzle-loaders.

Gorn said the early hunt and increasingly vocal complaints from local residents misses the bigger picture of decline in the Seward Peninsula musk oxen population, which is decreasing by about 13 percent a year. There are high rates pf natural deaths and fewer calves are surviving into a second year.

"We still have to be conservative with our harvest rates because we don't want to overharvest the population," Gorn said.

Brown bears preying on musk oxen likely drove the creatures to the town of 3,600 located 540 miles northwest of Anchorage starting about five years ago. The brown bear hunting season for the area around Nome also opens Aug. 1.

Information from: KNOM-AM, http://www.knom.org

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