Basic: Alaska



Many rural Alaskans depend on moose meat for sustenance. Before the government enacted hunting regulations, a family could hunt a moose when the freezer was empty and share it with the community. Today this is not the case. The restriction on hunting and the ecological changes in the environment due to climate change impact traditional ways of life practiced by the people of interior Alaska.

Finding a moose is harder today, requiring hunters to stay out longer. Traditional hunting locations are less predictable, due in part to climate-related changes in the environment. Another reason for the apparent scarcity of moose includes higher predation (by humans, bears, and wolves), possibly the result in a reduction in trapping practices by rural residents.

Previously unusual conditions in moose are becoming more common. Unhealthy moose in the interior are found more frequently, including those with parasite infestations, worms in the guts, puss in the muscles, and brittle bones. Moose are not growing as large as before; for example, a bull moose used to have 50+ inch antlers, but now moose of the same age might average 45-inch antlers. Further, calves are born later in the season, and in general many seasonal events come later, including fishing and freeze-up.

The warming climate also impacts hunting strategies. Warmer moose-hunting seasons create urgency when butchering and packing up a moose, as the meat begins to rot more quickly. Warmer weather prevents hunters from going out, creating a shorter hunting season.

Failing to get a moose can be emotionally challenge for some individuals. When 'failure' happens, such as not getting a moose before the end of the official hunting season, they may become grief-stricken. This sense of failure and sadness can be partly alleviated through the generous sharing of moose meat by others. Thus, a new form of bond might be developing in part as a result of new demands brought on by climate change.

Reasons for not finding a moose


"Everything is Drying Up" - observed changes in environmental conditions

For more information please contact:
Nikki Cooley, Co-Director
Karen Cozzetto, Co-Manager