PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE MOOSE MANAGEMENT AND RESEARCH IN ALASKA
Human coexistence with moose (Alces alces gigas) in Alaska has always been one of exploitation. Primitive people relied on the moose as a source of food, shelter, and clothing. Interior Indians utilized moose whenever available. With the advent of white exploration and gold mining, moose were killed in large numbers for food. Market hunting was common and over-harvest in some areas resulted. Modern conservation and game management came into practice in the later half of the 20th century. With it came regulations preventing over-harvest. Moose seasons were adjusted to accommodate increased demand. Any-sex seasons were largely eliminated or restricted and selective harvest of bulls became the norm. New laws, primarily the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act changed the paradigm of equal availability of game to all citizens. The law dictated a priority for harvest by rural citizens and instituted the era of subsistence management. Subsistence regulations redistributed harvest among users. It also shifted responsibility of management toward the federal government and away from the state. Today, major interest groups are still battling to ensure their right to a share of the harvest. New to the scene are the “non-consumptive” users. This group views moose as a part of the natural environment to be enjoyed, but not killed. The focus of moose management in the 21st century will likely continue along these battle lines. Coupled with this will be the ever present threat of habitat loss. Research efforts in the next century will likely focus on increasing our understanding of how predators, habitat quality, and hunting influence the population dynamics of moose.
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