Alaska moose (Alces alces) hunters have expressed concern that harvest has been challenged by warmer temperatures altering moose behavior and low water levels limiting boat access to hunting areas. The environmental impacts of these changes on moose harvest have not been quantified and are not well understood. Our objective was to assess how environmental conditions impact hunter harvest in Interior Alaska from 2000-2016. We split hunters into categories (local or non-local) and analyzed relationships during 5-day blocks that spanned the moose hunting season. The local harvest model associated high water level with increased harvest during block 4 (peak-harvest) of the hunting season (p = 0.006). A water level increase of 1 m increased daily harvest by 1.5 (p = 0.003). Non-local harvest was significantly different than null models for block 2 (p = 0.001), 3 (p = 0.048), and 4 (p = 0.001), and nearly in block 5 (p = 0.063). The non-local harvest model associated an increase in mean high temperature with reduced harvest in block 2 (p = 0.004) and block 5 (p = 0.037), and an increase in water level with increased harvest in block 3 (p = 0.083), 4 (p = 0.017), and block 5 (p = 0.092). These results reveal that local and non-local hunters are impacted differently by environmental conditions throughout the hunting season. We provided quantitative information on previously untested hypotheses regarding the impacts of dynamic environmental conditions on moose hunter harvest. Our findings provide wildlife managers with new insight on causes of variation in harvest among different user groups.
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Vol. 2020 • No. 2