Company wants Alaska to ban hunting near its mine

A mining company has asked the state to prohibit hunting near its metals mine in southeast Alaska, saying hunters are putting its workers at risk.

Hecla Greens Creek Mining Co. has recommended that the state Board of Game close a road system and related infrastructure to hunting near its facility on Admiralty Island, CoastAlaska reported last week.

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Workers have reported hunters firing near the mine operation, creating danger, said Mike Satre, a spokesman for Greens Creek Mine.

"They are putting our employees at risk by shooting in blind areas, by leaving carcasses in places that attract bears in our work areas," Satre said. "And they're in places that heavy equipment are working on a regular basis, and they're not a hazard that we're used to having around."

The company also has documented several near misses between hunters on bikes and mine trucks, Satre said. They both use a single-track dirt Forest Service road.

"Juneau-based hunters are using skiffs to transport bicycles and bike trailers over to the mine facility and using the bikes to access their mine infrastructure road," said Stephen Bethune, an area biologist with the state Department of Fish and Game.

Bethune said his agency has not heard from people opposed to the company's proposal.

"The department is neutral on this proposal," Bethune said. "We'll present the information and let the Board of Game decide how to proceed on this."

The company is not seeking to close the Forest Service road that connects a dock at Young Bay to the mine's main loading dock at Hawk Inlet.

"We are not asking to close that," Satre said. "That is a road that is very heavily traveled by recreational users."

The state board will consider the mine's proposal when it meets in Petersburg this month.

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Information from: KTOO-FM, http://www.ktoo.org