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Alaska Experiment Part Four

May 14, 2008

mountain goat on the run, originally uploaded by tropicaLiving.

What I learned tonight? Moose have injured and killed more humans in Alaska then bears! I don’t know about you but that was news to me. There is a lot of press about bears and how they are “encroaching” on populated areas but not a lot of talk about the very real danger that moose can present.

Tonight’s episode involved a lot more hunting which isn’t surprising. The experiment started in Fall, too late for them to even attempt to grow anything and the show gave them limited staples to live off. The intent was to make them work for their supper and work they are. Each team is taken on a hunting trip. So far I’ve seen goat and moose hunting. The first goat hunt was a success (well after two days it was) but no one taught these guys how to preserve meat. To me it seems a waste to teach them how to hunt, to take them on the hunting trip, but not teach them how to preserve the meat. If they can’t preserve it they will just get sick and the animal would have lost it’s life for nothing. 

That isn’t to say that I am anti-hunting I just don’t think it is something to do merely for fun or sport. If you are going to hunt you should do it smartly. No killing or mother’s or kids, aiming well so that you don’t injure the animal without killing it, utilize everything (meat, bones, skin) if possible. And the experts at Alaska Experiment are training the participants to do just that. Do in part to hunger but more importantly having to work for their food they are gaining a greater appreciation for the everyday things we take for granted (like the grocery store). These participants must ration what they have and hunt for what they don’t. They must scale mountains after crossing icy streams. Once they make the kill (so far two groups have successfully hunted goats) they have to skin it and gut it, all the while hoping a bear doesn’t come along to claim their kill. Once that’s done they haul the 150 lbs of meat back down the mountain. If you come home with meat to last through the winter then it’s worth it but if after four days of hiking across the icy tundra you have yet to kill a moose then you return home more exhausted then you left and have nothing to show for it.

The show isn’t all blood and guts though. It also shows how the participants can salmon, forage for berries and turn them into “jam” (it looks like syrup but flavor is flavor and beggars can’t be choosers), and build a bunk bed utilizing trees and crab nets. Even elevating yourself 12 inches off the ground can make a difference especially when it is 14 degrees BELOW zero. In  stroke of creativity the father in one of the groups plans and successfully constructs a set of bunk beds for his daughters using what’s on hand. I doubt they needed the crab net in the dead of winter anyway.  

Oh and if you are worried about the animals then you will be happy to know that the moose are 2 for 2 against the humans. 

3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 14, 2008 12:22 pm

    I find it interesting that we often see reports on bears/elephants/cheetahs/other animals encroaching our land. But we rarely see reports on how we actually took the land away from them. We humans settled into the land that they used to roam. It seems that we need to figure out how to co-exist with the animals or find some place to let them roam.

    Surely many people will call me crazy 🙂

  2. May 15, 2008 6:30 am

    Heh, I used to be scared to death of mooses when I was a kid. I still wonder who taught me they were dangerous since I grew up in Stockholm (the capital and the biggest city in Sweden). But moose sightings are not an uncommon feature there, so I guess some proper respect for these big animals was good to have.

    In general grass eaters are more dangerous to encounter than you think. Animal trainers at zoo fear a bite from a camel a lot more than from a wolf. The reason is that grasseater teeth crushes bones and tear the flesh open. Meateater teeth cuts like knives, which makes wounds that are more easy to treat. In addition to that meat eaters can give in and signal that they give in – which makes it possible to back off or halter an attack (provided the animal feels threatened – if it want some yummy protein this trick won’t work). Grass eaters keep on pummeling or biting untill the percieved threat is dead.

    Both behaviours works well in their natural context, but can be disastrous if a naive human turns up. We had an incident in Sweden recently where a dad let his four year old daughter walk over to a wild beaver to pat it, and it attacked her. He saved her (of course) and was bitten too. Fortunately for them the beaver chose to flee once it had made a statement. I’m still amazed that the dad thought a wild creature harmless – he should have known better! (In general swedes have oodles of information at hand on how to handle wildlife, starting at preschool continuing all through the life. The national tourist board showers you with brochures at the drop of a hat for one thing. But I guess that dad manage to walk through life with his ears and eyes firmly shut.)

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