Court dismisses community hunt appeal

Caribou. (Photo by Heather Bryant)

Alaska’s highest court has dismissed legal challenges brought by a regional Native corporation after its community hunt of Nelchina caribou was found unconstitutional.

The state Supreme Court did not rule on the merits of the case brought by Ahtna Inc. on behalf of eight of its villages.

In a ruling released Friday, the court dismissed the appeal after finding it was moot because the regulations challenged by the corporation had changed substantially since 2009. It also found that core issues had been addressed.

The state Board of Game created new rules for hunting Nelchina caribou in roughly 23,000 square miles between Cantwell and Glennallen, and gave a portion of the hunting rights to the eight villages. The hunt was challenged and the Superior Court found it unconstitutional in 2010.