Reducing User Conflicts

Residents and subsistence users of GMU 23 have long had concerns about hunting traffic and aircraft operations during fall migration hunting. These concerns revolve around four major themes: noise, diverting animals from traditional migration routes, campsites that are not kept clean, and camp locations that compete with local users. The following section lists some of these concerns and recommends actions pilots can take to help minimize these problems.

  1. Concern: Residents of Kotzebue find the constant noise from many take-offs each day objectionable.
    Suggested Action: Whenever possible avoid early morning and late evening departures and use arrival and departure routes that best avoid homes and businesses.
  2. Concern: Local hunters who live or have camps between Kotzebue and high airplane use areas, e.g. the Squirrel, Agashashok (Aggie), or lower Selawik rivers, object to the high number of overhead flights during the fall.
    Suggested Action: Fly routes that avoid established camps and other hunters.
  3. Concern: Pilots fly low over the main stem of major rivers and tributaries during fall migration. At this time, local hunters are restricted to large rivers in their boats. Local hunters object to the noise and feel that it scares animals away from the river corridors where they hunt.
    Suggested Action: As safety permits, fly high or around major river corridors.
  4. Concern: Pilots circle animals or other hunters at low altitudes to get a better look, scaring animals away from hunters on the ground and diverting animals from traditional migratory routes.
    Suggested Action: Do not circle groups of animals or “scout” for animals with aircraft.
  5. Concern: Pilots focus their efforts on migration corridors. Local hunters feel this can disrupt the migration and divert caribou away from traditional hunting areas.
    Suggested Action: Avoid flying low on migration corridor routes. Also, during fall migration, avoid flying on the northern side of rivers that run east and west; this allows animals to cross the river without diverting migration.
  6. Concern: Pilots do not allow the vanguard (lead animals) of the caribou migration to establish trails through subsistence hunting areas before starting to hunt animals for themselves and their clients. This diverts caribou away from local users.
    Suggested Action: Avoid flying around or near the first animals in a group or herd. Allow the leaders to establish a trail and the migrating herd will follow.
  7. Concern: Commercial operators using aircraft insert camps into available landing sites in specific areas, thus precluding access by other users.
    Suggested Action: Avoid high concentrations of hunters and maintain a distance of at least 1.5 miles between camps.
  8. Concern: Hunters being flown in to hunt are not advised about the need to leave camp sites clean, and transporters put too many clients in the same camp locations. This results in trash being left behind and other evidence of heavy use.
    Suggested Action: Leave no trace.
    • Leave a clean camp
    • Remove all garbage
    • Burn toilet paper and bury human waste in holes six to eight inches deep at least 200 feet from water and camps; cover and disguise hole when finished.
    • Don’t leave “extra” plastic tarps in the field
    • Dismantle fire rings, field table, game poles, and all site modifications
  9. Concern: Pilots compete with local residents for choice hunting areas along major rivers especially when caribou are scarce.
    Suggested Action: Fly routes that avoid established camps and other hunters.
  10. Concern: Non-shareholders trespass on native lands and allotments.
    Suggested Action: Land status maps should accompany hunters and guides in the field, information regarding landownership should be obtained prior to going into the field, and all permits need to be in possession of the transporters and hunters.
  11. Concern: Hunters are not properly taking care of meat in the field.
    Suggested Action: Hunters should follow procedures to appropriately care for their meat. In the event weather conditions change and meat care becomes difficult, consider carrying a satellite phone. Satellite phones help ensure safety but also provide an opportunity to arrange for meat pick-up without having to wait until the end of a hunt.
  12. Concern: Unwelcomed meat is left in Kotzebue.
    Suggested Action: Have a plan for what you will do with your meat once you leave the field and make this plan prior to hunting. If you are taking meat home with you, make arrangements ahead of time for how it will be shipped and have the proper storage containers ready. If you plan on donating your meat to a resident in one of the villages or Kotzebue, make arrangements prior to hunting and fill out a transfer of possession form in the back of the ADF&G hunting regulations book.

To best avoid conflicts, be respectful and considerate of others using the outdoors, respect local customs and traditions, avoid unnecessary noise and garbage pollution, and hunt and fly in an ethical manner.

For more information on how to have a successful and enjoyable hunt, and ensure that your actions and meat care, including any intended meat donations, meet the requirements of the law, see our general information on hunting and information specific to hunting in Unit 23.