Challenges to the Lifestyle
Over the past 50 years, radical changes have challenged the place of hunting and trapping in the lives of Alaska ’s residents. Economic trends, such as increasing fuel prices, make it more expensive to access game. Between charter flights and equipment, the cost of a single hunting trip can easily exceed the cost of the food acquired, while a single winter’s trapping might require spending thousands of dollars on equipment, food, and supplies.
Increased regulations have also made hunting and trapping more complex. Hunters and trappers once followed game across a land with no fences or boundaries. This changed following statehood. Alaska is now divided into a patchwork of state, federal, private, and tribal ownership – each with its own set of rules on how the land can be used.
The philosophical landscape of Alaska has also changed in recent years. Hunters and trappers face political and legal pressures that challenge their traditional activities. Pressure can also come from animal rights groups that threaten to curtail tourism to Alaska if trapping and hunting continue for certain animals, especially the wolf.
Despite these challenges, Alaskans continue to pursue their hunting and trapping traditions. Ultimately, this is a personal decision based on an individual’s idea of what constitutes a satisfying way of life.
“I could remember places up there where we hunted when I was a boy - it's nothin' like it used to be… I remember when I first went out with dad when I was 11 years old and we got a moose, there was no fat on that moose… But now you're gettin' these spring moose, and … they have fat on them. You know that fat just stays with them in through winter because it's warmer and they don't use it up.”
from Project Jukebox, Interview Section 2