The Importance of Moose, Caribou, Deer and Small Game in the Diets of Alaskans

Kimberly Titus
2009 Ingestion of Lead from Spent Ammunition: Implications for Wildlife and Humans   unpublished
With a statewide human population of about 677,000 (2006-2007 estimate) and at least 84,000 licensed resident hunters, many Alaskans rely on wild game for a significant part of their total diet. Even within Anchorage, the largest city with 283,000 residents, many families consume wild-taken fish (primarily salmon and halibut) and game (Moose, Caribou, deer) even if they did not harvest these resources themselves. We demonstrate through information from hunter harvest reports and subsistence
more » ... ing patterns that thousands of Alaskans depend on wild game. For example, some 29,000 hunters kill about 7,300 Moose annually in Alaska. Each harvested Moose and Caribou yields about 256 and 78 kg of edible meat, respectively. This meat is shared across households. In rural Alaska, reliance on ungulate meat is illustrated by communities such as Nikolai and Akiachak, where about 100 kg of Moose and Caribou meat are consumed per person annually. Small game, marine mammals, and waterfowl harvested with firearms also contribute to the local diet. The high levels of terrestrial wildlife harvest are allowed under both state and federal subsistence laws that provide a preference for Alaskan residents (under state law) and rural residents (under federal law). Specific regulations authorize long seasons and liberal bag limits for ungulates such as deer (up to six per person per season) and Caribou (five per day) in some areas. Sixty percent of the households in rural Alaska harvest game animals and 86% of these rural households consume wild game, attesting to the importance of wild foods. Alaskans consider the harvest of wild game as a healthy and cost-effective way to obtain protein as a food source. The extent to which Alaskans who harvest and consume high levels of game meat are at risk to lead exposure from spent ammunition has not been determined.
doi:10.4080/ilsa.2009.0312 fatcat:t2k7emcwvfap7kan3apsvhkude