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Management of an expanding moose (Alces alces) population on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska

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Wald, Eric J.





My overall objective of this project was to identify and develop management tools for an expanding moose population in western Alaska. The Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta (YKD) is home to over 40 villages that rely on subsistence resources across the region, and the high demand for resources has prioritized moose management on the Delta. It is critical for wildlife managers to understand not only wildlife ecology, but also the social component to resource management, which often times is the most important factor for success. I investigate a historical perspective of moose and moose management on the YKD. The historical colonization of moose into Alaska and subsequently into the Yukon-Kuskokwim region is described. I document a case study of the dual-management process for wildlife management in Alaska between the state and federal agencies and how this process worked for moose in the region. Additionally, the success of co-management is documented where the local residents of the region worked with agencies to make resource management decisions such as enacting a short-term moose hunting moratorium that benefited them in the long-term. I investigated management tools to help better understand the expanding moose population. There was a need to develop an alternative population survey technique for parts of the region that do not receive adequate or reliable survey conditions for the standard method used in the area. I developed a helicopter-based distance sampling technique that can be used in narrow riparian corridors during low snow years. Additionally, I developed a method for characterizing and indexing moose browse species within the region. Moose expanding into previously unoccupied habitats could have lasting effects on forage if populations become excessive in localized areas. It is important to characterize the condition of the browse base before the moose population expands and increases in density in order to have a baseline for future comparisons. This project also investigates the effects that snowshoe hares and beavers have on moose browse in the study area. Lastly, I relate a brooming index based on plant architecture to moose twinning rates, a measure of population productivity.

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