EPSCoR - Alaska Adapting to Changing Environments
Balancing the conservation of wildlife habitat with subsistence hunting access: A geospatial-scenario planning framework
Increased motorized access used for subsistence hunting has created a challenge for land managers trying to balance the conservation of wildlife habitat with the greater environmental impact of motorized access. We used an interdisciplinary approach to evaluate this challenge in a case study of subsistence moose (Alces alces) hunters who used off-highway vehicles (OHVs; e.g., four-wheelers) to access remote harvest areas in Yakutat, Alaska, USA, and the conservation needs to sustain moose. We developed a resilience-based planning framework that combined methods from wildlife ecology, land-use mapping, and scenario planning. The study started at the community level by working with local hunters to evaluate their values and goals for subsistence moose hunting, and to identify thresholds of undesired change. This process served as the basis for evaluating how four road closure scenarios would effect the distribution of moose and hunters’ access to moose harvest areas. The effect of roads and OHV routes on moose distribution was quantified in a previous study with a GIS-based resource selection function model. An index of access was quantified on a digitized map of harvest areas. The results of the scenario analyses suggest that a balance in the conservation of wildlife habitat and subsistence hunting access could be found in the spatial arrangement of routes that are outside of important moose habitat, but within reach of preferred harvest areas. This spatially explicit planning framework may prove useful in northern communities experiencing an increased use of motorized access for contemporary subsistence hunting practices.
Data and Resources
Data Types: Report