Alaska hunters with disabilities might someday harvest moose in an Anchorage park, but the plan faces criticism

A seated man in a green puffy coat looks through the scope on a rifle, which is mounted on a tripod, with tundra shrubs in the background.
Ira Edwards looks through the scope of his rifle. (Ira Edwards)

One of Anchorage’s biggest and most heavily used city parks could see a limited annual moose hunt for hunters with disabilities.

That’s after the state Board of Game approved a plan last month that would allow the closure of parts of Kincaid Park for hunters with mobility issues to harvest antlerless moose by bow or shotgun.

The earliest a hunt could happen would be October 2024, and it still needs city approval. Those who’ve spoken out against the idea say it would pose a safety risk to other park users, and they question whether hunting is an appropriate use of the park.

Ira Edwards wrote the proposal and says his plan addresses those concerns. He’s a hunter and outdoor enthusiast who uses a wheelchair. Edwards says the hunt would provide a much-needed opportunity for hunters like himself, and it would also thin out the moose in Kincaid, where run-ins between humans and moose are common.


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The following transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

Ira Edwards: So accessibility is a huge issue for people with disabilities and mobility impairments. Kincaid is nice, in that the city and the Nordic ski club have built huge trail networks all over the park, and they’re all hardened for heavy machinery use. So all the trails are built to withstand heavy use by the bike community, the running people and everyone, dog walkers, and that means that there’s also a way to drive a vehicle on the trails and get easy access to all areas of the park, which is something that is not really feasible in much of Alaska.

Casey Grove: So what would this look like? I mean, what kind of, you know, bows or firearms would be allowed? What part of the park would it happen in? And what time of year? Do we know?

IE: Yeah, so I spent nine years working on this, and there’s a lot of concerns with hunting in a city park. It’s, I mean, there’s a lot of people there. So just to address some of that, only a portion of the park could be closed. No part of the park is closed for an entire week. And people are really concerned about lack of access to the park. And also, there’s a series of trails that I’ve figured out that would have the least amount of barricades necessary to let everyone know that there’s an active hunt happening in area X.

So this would be a hunt that would happen during the weekday when there is still use in the park, but less organized events. It would happen after the high school and middle school cross-country running season starts and before the high school ski season starts. So it would happen mid-October, is generally the plan. And then, during the daylight hours only, and then, an example for what is legally allowed, the Board of Game changed my proposal a little bit, but they are allowing for people with physical disabilities only requiring a wheelchair or mobility devices such as prosthetics. It would be shotgun with slugs, which are short-range, lower velocity. It would be archery or be crossbow.

A bearded man in a wheelchair holds up a piece of meat.
Ira Edwards holds up a piece of hunt-harvested meat during the butchering process. (Ira Edwards)

CG: But that part about the safety of other folks, other park users, potentially wandering into the hunt area, just unaware that’s going on, how do you deal with that?

IE: Yeah, and that’s a part of it. That’s why we would have barricades and signs at access points. So yes, it’s possible people could be walking through the woods. I would imagine that 99% of the people are on trails, so there’s no way they could pass a trail and not notice that there is going to be a potentially closed area ahead of them. And then at the trailheads, we would also mark that, too. So if somehow they missed it, they could not have gotten onto the trails if they drove into a trailhead and found that also. Yeah, there’s a lot of social trails in there, but Kincaid is pretty easy, as it’s bordered by Raspberry Road, nd then there is the Coastal Trail, there’s the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge, which does allow hunting on it currently, if you have a permit and hunters education, so people could wander in off the mudflats as well. But all those access points where they come into a trail would also be notified.

CG: And just one other thing, I mean, I guess one of the criticisms I had read about was some folks, you know, kind of debating whether or not Kincaid is the type of park that we should look to to think about recreational opportunities in the form of hunting, in this case, and sort of getting a resource out of it, or if it should be the kind of park where we let the wildlife sit over there and we just look at it. And I just wondered what do you think about that kind of debate?

IE: Yeah, I mean, that’s a valid concern. If you want to tell someone where to go see a moose, you tell them to go to Kincaid. I’m proposing this to be an antlerless hunt only for two reasons. The bulls, while they might get aggressive during the rut, they haven’t actually hurt anyone. I know a few dogs have been hurt over the years, but the injuries from moose have happened with cows defending their calves in the spring, which is a real thing. I mean, you come and surprise a mama with their babies and they’re gonna get mad. But the density of trails in Kincaid Park is what has caused that. And that’s why Kincaid is not zoned for wildlife viewing like Bicentennial Park is, and that’s written into muni code on the parks, that, like I said, Kincaid is a highly developed recreational facility.

Casey Grove is host of Alaska News Nightly, a general assignment reporter and an editor at Alaska Public Media. Reach him at Read more about Casey here

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