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Moose Hunters of the Boreal Forest? A Re-examination of Subsistence Patterns in the Western Subarctic

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Type: Journal Article
Author: Yesner, David R.
Journal: Arctic
Volume: 42
Date: 1989
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/2973
Sector: Wildlife
Region: North America
Subject(s): moose
fire ecology
Abstract: "Many descriptions of lifestyle in the western subarctic region have been built on the premise that the hunting and use of moose was a central feature of those lifestyles. While this may be true, it is worthwhile to question the time depth that underlies this adaptation and the degree to which it may have applied to former societies inhabiting the boreal forest region. Any such effort must include an analysis of available faunal remains from archaeologic sites in that region. A consideration of the faunal record suggest that the intensive utilization of moose is relatively new in the western boreal forest, or at least was not widely characteristic of the late Holocene period. Thus, it cannot be assumed that the archaeologically designated late prehistoric Athapaskan tradition was isomorphic with modern subsistence regimes. To the degree two which large game played a central role in Athapaskan lifestyle it was caribou, rather than moose, that seems to have dominated in the northern ecotonal region. Fish and small game seem to have dominated in importance in the southern coastal forest region, with a mixed subsistence economy characteristic of the central region. Historical factors, primarily involving widespread fires, habitat disturbance and impacts on predators, seem to be most responsible for the increase in moose numbers during the past century. The role of fire is particularly critical and may have had great influence on the nature and stability of past subsistence regimes in the boreal forest region, including impacts on both large and small game."

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