Subsistence

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(Madelyn Smith/USFWS)
Refuge staff work directly with local residents, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the Federal Office of Subsistence Management to ensure continued opportunities for subsistence uses by local rural residents within the refuge.


The Alaska National Interest Land Conservation Act of 1980 (ANILCA) mandates protection of subsistence activities for Alaska rural residents. The Act states that the “taking on public lands of fish and wildlife for nonwasteful subsistence uses shall be accorded priority over the taking on such lands of fish and wildlife for other purposes.”  Thus, one of the Refuge’s purposes is ensuring the continuation of subsistence uses by local residents.

Living a subsistence lifestyle means depending on wild renewable resources for food, shelter, fuel, clothing, tools, transportation, and the making and selling of handicrafts. It includes bartering or sharing resources and for customary trade. Due to the importance of the Refuge’s wild resources to the traditional ways of the villages within the Refuge boundaries, Refuge staff work to build mutually beneficial relationships with each of the villages’ tribes and their tribal consortium, Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments. Refuge staff regularly meet with village residents and their governmental bodies. The Refuge provides assistance for cultural and youth events including camps, clinics (gun safety, trapping, etc.) and open houses.

Additionally, Section 810 of ANILCA states the following:

“In determining whether to withdraw, reserve, lease, or otherwise permit the use, occupancy, or disposition of public lands under any provision of law authorizing such actions, the head of the federal agency having primary jurisdiction over such lands or his designee shall evaluate the effect of such use, occupancy, or disposition on subsistence uses and needs, the availability of other lands for the purposes sought to be achieved, and other alternatives which would reduce or eliminate the use, occupancy, or disposition of public lands needed for subsistence purposes.”

All proposed special uses of the refuge are evaluated to assess the potential impacts to subsistence resources and activities. 

Refuge staff monitor important subsistence populations such as moose, waterfowl, fish, and furbearers and their harvest. To learn more about working with wildlife, visit our Science section. 

In Alaska, overall management of subsistence resources is shared among state and federal agencies. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game - Division of Subsistence, and the Alaska Boards of Fisheries and Game manage state-authorized subsistence hunting and fishing on state and private lands and waters. For federal lands, the Office of Subsistence Management oversees the process of revising and publishing regulations, set by the Federal Subsistence Board, that specify subsistence seasons, harvest limits, and eligibility of villages to harvest wildlife on federal lands in Alaska. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service enforces regulations set by these state and federal agencies.