Alaska big game officials have legalized an unusual hunt that will take a boat and a bold hand.
Starting Thursday, Alaska residents can harvest musk oxen that wander onto Bering Sea ice and become stranded when floes break and drift off.
Musk oxen stranded on ice are doomed to drown or starve, said Patrick Jones, assistant state area biologist.
“This occurs every couple of years,” Jones said from his office in Bethel. “It just seems like a waste for them not to harvest these animals.”
There is little chance stranded musk oxen could swim to shore in the icy waters. “They’re just terrible swimmers,” Jones said.
The Alaska Board of Game changed the rule at the suggestion of residents of Mekoryuk, a Cu’pik (CHOOP’-ik) Eskimo community of 210 and the only village on Nunivak Island, which lies 30 miles off the Seward Peninsula, the projection of land north of the Aleutian Islands.
Muskoxen are stocky, long-haired animals that disappeared from Alaska by the 1920s, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Thirty-four East Greenland musk oxen in 1935 were moved to Nunivak Island, where they thrived. Animals from the transplanted herd were used to start four other Alaska herds and two in Russia.
Bulls stand 5 feet high at the shoulder and weigh up to 800 pounds. Cows reach 4 feet at the shoulder and can weigh up to 500 pounds. Their horns cover nearly their entire forehead.
Read more: mashable.com
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