Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve

A pair of white, trumpeter swans resting in water

The United States Congress established Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve along with other conservation units in Alaska in 1980 when it passed the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, commonly known as ANILCA. In setting aside approximately 100 million acres of land and resources throughout Alaska for enduring protection, ANILCA recognized the economic and cultural importance of the harvest of fish, wildlife and other wild resources to both Native and non-Native rural residents. Specifically, it provided the opportunity for those engaged in a traditional subsistence way of life on these federal lands to continue to do so. Subsistence harvest of fish and wildlife is allowed on federal public lands and waters in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve by qualified subsistence users subject to federal subsistence management regulations.

This guide has been developed to provide important information about subsistence activities in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. It describes eligibility for hunting, trapping, and fishing; key provisions for hunting, trapping and fishing; regulations about the harvest of firewood, plants and berries; collection of non-edible animal parts and plants for handicrafts; ways to access the park and preserve for subsistence activities; and ways to participate in the regulatory process.

For information about subsistence hunting, fishing, and trapping opportunities on other federal public lands and waters in Alaska, you should consult both the federal subsistence management regulations and the agency managing the lands, such as the Bureau of Land Management and the USDA Forest Service, about subsistence on the lands that they manage.

Some lands in Wrangell-St. Elias are designated as national park, while others are designated as national preserve. Both Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Wrangell-St. Elias National Preserve are open to subsistence hunting, fishing and trapping under the Federal Subsistence Management Program regulations administered by the Federal Subsistence Board. The eligibility requirements for hunting and fishing in the national park, as well as allowed means of access, are different from those for the national preserve.

To ensure the continuation of the opportunity for rural residents to engage in the subsistence uses of resources in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, the National Park Service (NPS) has adopted the following mission statement to guide its activities. Subsistence will be managed as a legislated use consistent with the provisions of ANILCA (Section 202(3)), the Organic Act of 1916, and enabling legislation to:

  • Protect the opportunity for qualified local rural residents to continue traditional subsistence activities;
  • Recognize that subsistence ways of life differ from region to region and are continuing to evolve, and where appropriate, park management practices may reflect regional diversity and evolution;
  • Promote local involvement and participation in processes associated with subsistence management;
  • Ensure that management practices involving the utilization of public lands adequately consider the potential for restriction of subsistence uses and impacts upon subsistence resources;
  • Ensure that management of park resources is consistent with the conservation of unimpaired ecosystems and natural and healthy populations of fish and wildlife, incorporating scientific data and principles with traditional knowledge and cultural values; and
  • Promote effective communication and mutual understanding of subsistence uses and related cultural and social values, and park purposes and protection, between NPS, subsistence users, the State of Alaska and the public.

Subsistence opportunities under ANILCA apply to rural Alaska residents. Eligibility is based on the physical location of your primary permanent residence, not on a mailing address, and seasonal residents do not qualify. 

Who is Eligible to Hunt, Trap, or Fish in the National Park?
To be eligible to hunt, fish or trap in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, you must be a rural Alaska resident with a positive customary and traditional use determination for the species and area you wish to hunt, trap or fish, and live either in a resident zone community or inside the park boundary, or have 13.440 subsistence use permit.

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park has 23 resident zone communities: Chisana, Chistochina, Chitina, Copper Center, Dot Lake, Gakona, Gakona Junction, Glennallen, Gulkana, Healy Lake, Kenny Lake, Lower Tonsina, McCarthy, Mentasta Lake, Nabesna, Northway/Northway Village/Northway Junction, Slana, Tanacross, Tazlina, Tetlin, Tok, Tonsina and Yakutat. Maps of the resident zone community boundaries for Dot Lake, Healy Lake, Northway, Tanacross, and Tetlin are on file at park headquarters and also available on the park website. The other resident zone communities do not have established boundaries.

Rural residents who live outside the park or resident zone communities may apply to the superintendent for a subsistence use permit established under 36 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §13.440, also known as a 13.440 permit. To receive this permit you must demonstrate that you have or are a member of a family that has a history or pattern of using the national park for subsistence purposes at the time ANILCA was passed in 1980 without using aircraft for access. This can be done in writing or by telephone or face-to-face interview with park staff. The permit is valid for all permanent residents of your household provided that you continue to live in a rural community. A positive customary and traditional use determination for the species and area you wish to hunt, trap or fish is also required.

Who is Eligible to Hunt, Trap, or Fish in the National Preserve?
To be eligible to hunt, trap or fish under federal subsistence regulations in Wrangell-St. Elias National Preserve, you must be a local rural resident. A local rural resident is any person who maintains their primary permanent home in or near the preserve. People who are eligible to harvest fish or wildlife under federal subsistence regulations in the park are considered local rural residents and are also eligible to subsistence hunt, trap and fish in the preserve. You must also have a positive customary and traditional use determination for the area and species you intend to harvest.ANILCA specifies that preserves are to be managed in the same way as parks and monuments with the exception that sport hunting is allowed in preserve areas. As a result, guided and unguided sport hunting under non-conflicting State of Alaska regulations is permitted in Wrangell-St. Elias National Preserve. Additionally, fishing under State of Alaska regulations is allowed in both the park and the national preserve.

This presents subsistence users with a choice in the preserve; they can hunt, trap or fish under federal subsistence regulations or under state regulations. The primary difference being that federal regulations often have longer seasons and larger harvest limits than state regulations to provide a greater subsistence opportunity.

Note that you may not add harvest limits from state and federal harvests or from different areas to increase your total harvest limit unless the regulations specifically allow for this.

Customary and traditional use determinations (C&T) are made by the Federal Subsistence Board and are based on the community or area in which you live. They identify wildlife populations and fish stocks taken customarily and traditionally for subsistence purposes. A positive customary and traditional use determination means only residents from certain regions, communities, fishery management areas or wildlife management units may harvest a species in a particular area..

Customary and traditional use determinations are listed in the Federal Subsistence Management Program regulation books for the harvest of wildlife and the harvest of fish and shellfish. Before going out to hunt, trap or fish for subsistence in the park or preserve, check to see if the community or area where you live has a “positive” C&T determination for where you intended to harvest fish or wildlife. The park and preserve are located in the Prince William Sound, Yakutat, and Yukon-Northern fishery management areas and overlap multiple wildlife management units including 5A, 5B, 6A, 11, 12, and 13C.

When there is not enough of a species in an area for all user groups to harvest, C&T determinations identify who has priority to take that species under the federal subsistence program. ANILCA §804 includes the following criteria to differentiate among qualified users in times of shortage:
1) Customary and direct dependence upon the fish or wildlife populations as the mainstay of livelihood;
2) local residency; and
3) availability of alternative resources.

If you are a federally qualified subsistence user, you may designate another federally qualified subsistence user to hunt moose or caribou or take fish on your behalf. Additionally, unit-specific provisions allow for the use of a designated hunter for goat in Unit 5 only. Use of a designated hunter to harvest sheep is not allowed. Using a designated hunter or fisher allows residents who are unable to hunt or fish for themselves to acquire the meat and fish they need for subsistence.

You can designate only one person to hunt or fish for you at one time. Designated hunters and fishers may hunt or fish for more than one recipient, but cannot have more than two harvest limits in their possession at any one time unless otherwise specified in the regulations. All designated hunters and fishers must get a designated harvest permit and return a completed harvest report.

Wildlife and fish taken by designated hunters and fishers count toward the person’s harvest limit for whom the wildlife or fish is taken. Any species of fish allowed for subsistence uses in an area may be taken under a designated harvest permit.

Any person designated to harvest moose, caribou, goat (Unit 5 only) or fish for another federally qualified resident must deliver the meat or fish promptly to the recipient. In addition, they cannot charge for their services or claim any part of the wildlife or fish for themselves.

Regardless of the type of hunt -- whether a general hunt under State of Alaska hunting regulations or a federal subsistence hunt -- a State of Alaska resident hunting license is required for hunters age 18 and older. A permanent identification card issued by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) to residents age 60 and older also satisfies the requirement for a state license.

In addition, some hunts require a federal or state registration permit or a state harvest ticket. Consult the federal subsistence regulation booklet to determine whether a federal registration permit is required for a particular area and animal. When a federal registration permit is required for a given area, subsistence users are not required to have state permits or harvest tickets. Federal registration permits can be obtained in person during hunting season at the Visitor Center in Copper Center, at the Slana Ranger Station, the Yakutat Ranger Station, and from the District Ranger in Kennecott/McCarthy. Hunters 18 years of age or older should bring their hunting license or permanent ID card (for those 60 years of age or older) along with photo ID such as a drivers license and proof of local physical address when applying for federal subsistence permits.

If a federal registration permit is not required, subsistence hunters must possess and comply with the provisions of any required state permit or harvest ticket. For example, there is no federal registration permit for the regular season sheep hunt in Units 11 and 12. Consequently, federal hunters are required to obtain a state harvest ticket for sheep and comply with the sealing requirements associated with that harvest ticket. State harvest tickets and some registration permits are available through the ADF&G website. They may also be obtained from ADF&G offices. 

Everyone issued a registration permit, including those who did not hunt or were unsuccessful, must turn in a harvest report within the time period specified on the permit. Harvest reports provide resource managers important information about the relative health and abundance of wildlife populations as well as harvest effort.

If you have both a state harvest ticket or permit and a federal registration permit when hunting in the preserve and you harvest an animal, submit only one successful harvest report for a given hunt area in accordance with the appropriate state or federal season and harvest limit. Please do not double report a successful harvest! Your other permit or ticket would report that you did not hunt.In Units 11 and 12, hunters 60 years of age or older may hunt sheep under federal subsistence regulations either on their own or together with a youth aged 8 to 15 years during an extended season. Note that the use of designated hunters is not allowed for sheep in these units.

Sealing of Hides or Skulls
If you harvest a bear, beaver, lynx, marten, otter, sheep, wolf, or wolverine you may need to have it sealed. Sealing means having an authorized representative of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game place a seal on an animal hide, skull, or both. These requirements apply to animals harvested under both hunting and trapping regulations. Sealing requirements vary by species and area, so check the information relative to your particular harvest to see if there are sealing requirements.

NPS Regulations on the Use of Bait to Harvest Bears
Federally qualified subsistence users may bait for bears in the park and preserve only under federal subsistence regulations, provided that the bait used is either parts of legally taken native fish or wildlife that are not required to be salvaged or the remains of native fish or wildlife that died of natural causes. The Wrangell-St. Elias Superintendent may issue individual, annual permits allowing the use of human-produced food items as bait upon a finding that such use is compatible with the purposes and values for which the area was established (e.g., does not create a user conflict) and that the applicant does not have reasonable access to the natural bait described above. NPS regulations prohibit the use of bait to harvest bears in the national preserve under State of Alaska regulations.

To trap for subsistence resources in the park or preserve, you must have a state trapping license and comply with federal trapping regulations, which can be found in the back of the federal subsistence regulations booklet for the harvest of wildlife. 

Additionally, NPS regulations define a trap as "a snare, trap, mesh, wire or other implement, object or mechanical device designed to entrap or kill animals other than fish." For this reason, free-ranging furbearers may not be taken with a firearm on NPS lands, including the park and preserve, under a trapping license. However, free-ranging furbearers may be taken with a firearm under a hunting license consistent with seasons and harvest limits in the federal subsistence hunting regulations.

Established trails in the park may be used by others. Please trap in ways to minimize conflicts between trapping and other users, for example, avoid situations where you might catch a domestic dog or cat, such as near homes or trails frequently used by skiers, skijorers, or mushers. At the end of the season, please remove all litter from the trapline.

Engaging in trapping activities as the employee of another person is prohibited.

You don’t need a State of Alaska resident fishing license to subsistence fish under the federal subsistence regulations; however, a federal subsistence permit is required to fish for most species and waters in the park and preserve under federal subsistence regulations. Federal subsistence fishing regulations also apply to federal waters of the entire Copper River. Federal fishing permits for the Upper Copper River are available to federally qualified subsistence users at Visitor Center in Copper Center, at the Slana Ranger Station, at the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge office in Tok, and from the District Ranger in the Kennecott/McCarthy area. For information about federal subsistence fishing permits for park and preserve waters outside of the Upper Copper River District and the Batzulnetas Area, contact the fisheries biologist at park headquarters at (907) 822-5234. Please bring a photo ID such as a driver’s license and proof of local physical address when applying for federal subsistence permits.

The primary fish species harvested by subsistence users in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve and in the Upper Copper River are salmon, burbot, lake trout, whitefish, and Arctic grayling. Allowed methods for subsistence harvest of fish under federal regulations may vary between streams and regulatory areas. Harvest methods may include fish wheels, dip nets, other types of nets, spears, and rod and reel. See the federal subsistence management regulations booklet for information specific to the area you intend to fish. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve lies within three fishery management areas: Yakutat, Prince William Sound, and Yukon-Northern.

State of Alaska subsistence fishing is also permitted in the Upper Copper River District downstream of Indian River. Contact the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for permits, any license requirements, and other information about the state subsistence and personal use fisheries in the Upper Copper River District. Fishing under state regulations within the park and preserve is only allowed using a closely attended hook and line. Chumming (placing fish eggs or parts, food, or other substances in the water to attract fish) is prohibited.

Food Storage RulesThroughout the park, all food (except legally taken game) and beverages, food and beverage containers, garbage, harvested fish and equipment used to cook or store food must be stored in a bear resistant food container (BRFC) or secured—

  • Within a hard sided building;

  • Within lockable and hard sided section of a vehicle, vessel, or aircraft; or

  • By caching a minimum of 100 feet from camp and suspending at least 10 feet above the ground and 4 feet horizontally from a post, tree trunk or other object on a line or branch that will not support a bear’s weight.

These rules apply to everyone, including subsistence users. Bear resistant food containers are available for loan free of charge from the Copper Center Visitor Center, the Kennecott Visitor Center, and the Slana Ranger Station. For information about approved bear resistant food containers contact the park or visit the park website.This provision does not apply to:

  • Clean dishes and cooking equipment that are free of food odors.

  • Food that is being transported, consumed or prepared for consumption.

  • The use of bait for trapping and hunting under the provisions of state and federal law.

  • Food carried by persons climbing or traveling above the firn line on snow covered terrain.

The intent of these designations is to prevent bears and other wildlife from obtaining and becoming conditioned to food and garbage, thus protecting wildlife and park visitors alike.

Local rural residents may gather dead or downed timber for firewood without a permit. Non-commercial cutting of standing timber greater than three inches in diameter at ground height is allowed for appropriate subsistence uses such as house logs, when certain criteria are met. A permit is required and can be applied for through park headquarters in Copper Center. No commercial use of house logs or firewood harvested or collected in the park and preserve is allowed. Standing timber less than three inches in diameter may be harvested by NPS-qualified subsistence users without a permit.

No permit is required for the non-commercial gathering of berries, mushrooms, and other plant materials by federally qualified subsistence users.

The harvest of migratory birds in Alaska for subsistence during the spring and summer is regulated by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and associated regulations. Permanent residents of some but not all of the park’s resident zone communities are eligible to participate in this harvest. As of 2017, the eligible communities are as follows: Chistochina, Chitina, Copper Center, Dot Lake, Gakona, Gulkana, Healy Lake, Mentasta Lake, Northway, Tanacross, Tazlina, Tetlin, Tok, and Yakutat (glaucous-winged gull egg gathering only).

The spring/summer subsistence harvest is managed by the Alaska Migratory Bird Co-Management Council, which is comprised of representatives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and Alaska’s indigenous inhabitants. For specific regulations on the spring-summer subsistence harvest, including which communities can participate in which areas, consult the Alaska Subsistence Spring/Summer Migratory Bird Harvest booklet. For additional information contact the Alaska Migratory Bird Co-Management Council at (907) 786-3499 or (877) 229-2344. Or see their website.

Local rural residents may harvest waterfowl in the preserve during the fall under State of Alaska regulations. Contact the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for harvest regulations and other information about the fall harvest.

In addition to hunting licenses, waterfowl hunters 18 years of age or older must have a current State of Alaska Duck Stamp, except for disabled veterans, those 60 years or older, and those that qualify for a low-income license. Under a 2014 law, Alaska subsistence hunters are exempt from the requirement to carry a Federal Duck Stamp while hunting migratory waterfowl in the state of Alaska. To qualify for this exemption, you must be a permanent rural Alaska resident as defined in the Federal Regulations for the Alaska Subsistence Spring/Summer Migratory Bird Harvest (50 CFR Part 92.4) or in the Federal Subsistence Management Regulations (50 CFR Part 100.23) or an eligible person (defined in 92.4) living in an included area (defined in 92.5(a)). If you qualify for this exemption, you may hunt migratory waterfowl without a Federal Duck Stamp during any waterfowl season in Alaska for which you are qualified.

Under regulations finalized in 2017, NPS-qualified subsistence users may collect and use nonedible fish and wildlife parts, such as horns and antlers, and plant materials from park and preserve lands to make handicrafts for personal use or to exchange through customary trade or barter. (“Customary trade’’ means the exchange of handicrafts or furs for cash to support personal or family needs; and does not include trade which constitutes a significant commercial enterprise.)Eligibility to collect plants or nonedible animal parts follows the same criteria for other subsistence uses in national parks, monuments and preserves. Collection of nonedible wildlife parts is limited to NPS-qualified subsistence users who are residents of communities or areas with a federally recognized customary and traditional use determination for each species in the game management unit where the collection occurs. In other words, if an NPS-qualified subsistence user can lawfully harvest the wildlife species in a particular area for subsistence uses, then they are allowed to collect nonliving, nonedible parts of that same species they encounter in the area. 

The superintendent has authorized in writing the collection of nonedible animal parts throughout Wrangell-St. Elias. The sale of raw, unworked plant materials or animal parts collected from park and preserve lands is prohibited, as is the use of paid employees to collect animal parts. The regulations also allows NPS-qualified subsistence users to collect nonedible animal parts and plants on behalf of another NPS-qualified subsistence user or for cultural or educational programs that are qualified under federal subsistence program regulations at 50 CFR 100.25(g). Designated collectors must obtain a permit from the superintendent. 

Off-Road Vehicles. Any permanent resident of a resident zone community, resident of the park, or holder of a 13.440 permit may use an off-road vehicle (ORV), including an all-terrain vehicle (ATV), for subsistence access within the park and preserve north of the Bagley Ice Field providing resource damage does not occur. A permit is not required, but is recommended. Trail maps and permits are available at the Slana Ranger Station and the Visitor Center in Copper Center. To minimize resource damage, it is recommended that ORV users travel on established trails and dry river beds.

The following types of vehicles are prohibited off-road for subsistence and recreational uses:

  • Nodwells or other tracked rigs greater than 5.5 feet in width or 4,000 pounds curb weight;
  • Street-legal highway vehicles;
  • Custom 4x4 jeeps, SUVs, or trucks designed for off-road use;
  • Original or modified ‘’deuce and a half’’ cargo trucks;
  • Dozers, skid-steer loaders, excavators, or other construction equipment;
  • Motorcycles or dirt bikes; and
  • Log skidders.

Wheeled vehicles (including all-terrain/off-road vehicles, utility vehicles, and Argos) must weigh less than 1,500 pounds curb weight, not including trailers. Curb weight refers to the weight of the vehicle without accessories, passengers, cargo, or fluids.

Additional rules apply to subsistence ORV use in the Slana-Nabesna area. For trails in the Black Mountain area and the southern portions of the Tanada Lake Trail (formally called the Final Environmental Impact Statement Nabesna Off-Road Vehicle Management Plan (FEIS) Wilderness Area), subsistence ORV users must stay on trails or, for the purpose of game retrieval only, within identified trail corridors (1/2 mile on either side of the trail). ORV use outside of these designated trail corridors in the FEIS Wilderness Area is prohibited. These boundaries of the FEIS Wilderness Area are shown on the map. The old Soda Lake Trail is closed to subsistence ORV use except during periods of adequate snow cover. Adequate snow cover is defined snow of sufficient depth, generally 6-12 inches or more, or a combination of snow and frost depth sufficient to protect the underlying vegetation and soil.

Subsistence ORV use is prohibited on Wrangell-St. Elias managed lands south of the Bagley Ice Field and Seward Glacier, including on the Malaspina Forelands above mean high tide.

Visiting friends and relatives from outside the area, sport hunters, and local rural residents not engaged in subsistence may only use ORVs on designated trails, must travel outside of designated wilderness, and must obtain an ORV permit. 

Airplanes. Fixed wing airplanes may be used to access Wrangell-St. Elias National Preserve for the taking of fish or wildlife under federal subsistence regulations. However, taking ungulates, bear, wolves, wolverine, or other furbearers with a firearm or other weapon before 3 AM following the day in which airborne travel occurred is prohibited, except for flights in regularly scheduled commercial aircraft between regularly maintained public airports. Airplanes may also be used to access the preserve to harvest fish and wildlife under state regulations. Airplanes may not be used to access the national park to take fish or wildlife for subsistence uses, although accessing the national park to sport fish under state regulations is allowed.

Subsistence users may not land outside the park, in the preserve, or on private lands such as inholdings or Native allotments and walk into the national park to take fish and wildlife for subsistence purposes. Residents of Yakutat may request a permit under an exception in ANILCA to access the Malaspina Forelands Area using aircraft for subsistence purposes. Contact the Yakutat Ranger Station or park headquarters for permit information.

Snowmachines, Motorboats and Other Means of Nonmotorized Surface Transportation. Motorboats and other means of nonmotorized surface transportation, such as dog teams, may be used for any purpose, including subsistence, in the monument. Snowmachines for traditional activities, including subsistence, and travel to and from villages and homesites may be used when there is adequate snow cover (at least 6 to 12 inches of snow).

The use or possession of domestic goats or sheep, including as pack animals, is prohibited. Use or possession of llamas, alpacas, or any other domestic animal of the Camelidae or Bovidae family within NPS administered areas as pack animals is allowed in accordance with written authorization from the superintendent. Authorized pack or saddle animals may graze in NPS areas without a permit for less than 14 days per calendar year provided that the grazing is in conjunction with their use as a pack or saddle animal and any feed brought into the park conforms to the Alaska Weed Free Forage Certification

Please Be Aware of and Respect Private Property
Approximately 1 million of the 13 million acres of land within the boundaries of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve are non-federal lands belonging to Alaska Native Corporations, other private owners, and the State of Alaska. Significant amounts of these non-federal lands are located along the McCarthy Road and along the east bank of the Copper River. Federal subsistence harvest regulations do not apply to state and private lands, which fall under the jurisdiction of state regulations.

Subsistence users are responsible for being aware of and respecting the ownership status of lands where they are engaged in subsistence activities. Crossing private lands, other than legally reserved public access easements, without the permission of the landowner, as well as camping or hunting on such lands without permission is trespassing. Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) 17(b) easements cross lands belonging to Alaska Native Corporations in order to provide access to public lands and waters. Other uses within the 17(b) easements, including hunting, trapping, fishing and camping require permission and possibly a permit from the landowner. And in some cases these activities are prohibited.

Contact the park or the landowner for further information about land status within the park and preserve boundaries. An interactive map of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve is available here. For information about Native Corporation lands, contact the Lands Department at Ahtna, Inc., at (907) 822-3476 and the Chitina Native Corporation at (907) 823-2223. Interactive maps of Ahtna lands are available.

  • call for proposals to change regulations is issued by the Federal Subsistence Board. The call for proposals to change wildlife hunting and trapping regulations is issued in January of odd numbered years. The call for proposals to change fishing regulations is issued in January of even numbered years.
  • Regional Advisory Councils meet with the public to develop proposals for their region. Proposals to change fishing and hunting regulations are submitted.
  • Proposals are published for review and public comment.
  • Proposals are analyzed by Federal staff to examine the biological and socio-cultural effects of each proposal. A preliminary conclusion is offered for consideration by the affected Regional Advisory Council(s).
  • Regional Advisory Councils meet to review the analyses and discuss public comments on proposals for their region. The Councils develop recommendations to the Federal Subsistence Board based on the analyses, tribal, ANCSA corporation, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and public comments, and their own knowledge of subsistence needs and uses.
  • The Interagency Staff Committee meets to review proposals and Council recommendations and develop its comments for the Federal Subsistence Board. The Interagency Staff Committee is made up of senior staff from the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game participates to provide the State's perspective on proposals.
  • The Federal Subsistence Board meets in January (Fisheries) or April (Wildlife) to take action on the proposals. For each proposal, the Board considers the Regional Advisory Council recommendation(s), staff analysis, tribal, ANCSA corporation, Interagency Staff Committee, Alaska Department of Fish and Game and public comments. The Board can decide to adopt, reject, modify or defer action on any proposal.
  • New regulations are published and distributed to the public. Regulations are in effect for two years. Fishing regulations take effect April 1. Hunting and trapping regulations take effect July 1.

How Changes are Made to Federal Subsistence Regulations
The Federal Subsistence Board determines which subsistence wildlife and fish species are open to harvest, which communities and areas are eligible to harvest, harvest limits and seasons, the methods by which an animal or fish may be taken, and other management measures.

  • The Board consists of officials from the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Forest Service and two public members who possess personal knowledge of and direct experience with subsistence uses in rural Alaska. A representative appointed by the Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture serves as the chair.
  • The Federal Subsistence Board relies heavily on the input from local subsistence users when considering regulatory changes. Subsistence users can participate in the development and review of regulations by submitting proposals to change regulations, commenting on proposals submitted by others and testifying at public meetings. Regulations are subject to change every two years.
  • Opportunities to participate in the development of federal subsistence regulations occur throughout the year. To find out the specific date when proposals must be submitted or for more information consult the Federal Subsistence Management regulations booklet or call the Federal Subsistence Management Program staff at 1-800-478-1456.

NPS regulations may supersede all federal and state subsistence hunting, trapping and fishing regulations.

The Wrangell-St. Elias National Park Subsistence Resource Commission (SRC) provides a venue for local subsistence users to have input into the management of subsistence resources in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. The purpose of the Commission is to recommend to the Governor of Alaska and the Secretary of the Interior a program for subsistence hunting within Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. Since the establishment of the Federal Subsistence Management Program in 1990, the SRC has also been making recommendations on proposals for hunting, trapping and fishing regulations (e.g., harvest limits, seasons, and customary and traditional use determinations) affecting the park directly to the federal subsistence Regional Advisory Councils (RACs) and the Federal Subsistence Board.

The commission is comprised of nine local rural residents representing geographic, cultural, and user diversity from within the region. SRC members are appointed by the Governor (3 members), the Secretary of the Interior (3 members), and the federal subsistence RACs (one each from the Southcentral, Eastern Interior and Southeast RACs). The SRC generally meets twice a year in September/October and February/March. Meetings are open to the public, and public comments are welcome. For a list of the current members or information about how to apply for a seat on the SRC, contact park headquarters or see the park’s website.

More information, including federal hunting and fishing permits, can be obtained from Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve offices:

Park Headquarters and Visitor Center
P.O. Box 439 / Mile 106.8 Richardson Highway
Copper Center, AK 99573
Phone: (907) 822-5234
Fax: (907) 822-3281
Email: wrst_subsistence@nps.gov

Slana Ranger Station
P.O. Box 885 / Mile 0.2 Nabesna Road
Slana, AK 99586
Phone: (907) 822-7401
Fax: (907) 822-5248

Stop here for ORV/ATV permits, federal subsistence registration permits, trail locations, regulation booklets, maps, and road conditions. Open 7 days a week, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., June through September. By appointment only October through May.

Yakutat Ranger Station
P.O. Box 137
Yakutat, AK 99689
Phone: (907) 784-3295

During the summer, federal subsistence hunting and fishing permits are also available from the District Ranger in the Kennecott/McCarthy area.

Other Useful Information
Other Useful Information that May Be Obtained at Park Offices

Federal Subsistence Management Regulation Booklets: These booklets list the seasons, harvest limits, and customary and traditional use determinations for each game management unit and fishery management area in the state. Permit and other requirements are listed in the booklets as well as any special restrictions or information relating to specific harvests. These booklets are updated every two years in coordination with the regulatory cycle. They are available at the Visitor Center in Copper Center, at the Slana Ranger Station, and on the web.

National Park Service Regulations: The National Park Service regulations that apply to Alaska parks are contained in 36 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 13. These regulations were first established in 1981 and change infrequently. 

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park Subsistence Plan: The plan describes subsistence issues in the park that the NPS and Subsistence Resource Commission are addressing. The plan may be viewed at park headquarters in Copper Center.

News from Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve

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    Last updated: June 1, 2022