Subsistence Harvest Surveys

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Subsistence hunters are Native Americans in Alaska and Native Canadians in Canada that have rights to harvest waterfowl and waterfowl eggs for subsistence purposes.


A survey of the annual subsistence harvest has been conducted in Alaska since 1985. The sample frame consists of all households in the parts of Alaska in which subsistence harvesting of birds and eggs is legal. There are about 26,000 such households. The survey covers the subsistence harvest period, April-October, in three increments. Survey workers hand deliver the first survey forms to sample households in April, and explain how the forms should be filled out. The survey form shows pictures of the various species of birds, and participants are asked to record how many birds and eggs of each species they take. Three months later, workers visit the households again to retrieve the first survey forms and deliver forms for the second period. Two months after that, survey workers visit again to pick up forms and deliver the forms for the last period. At the end of the final period they collect the last survey forms. The analyses used to estimate the harvest are similar to those used to estimate sport harvest in the United States and Canada, except that species-specific estimates are derived directly from household reports rather than from a wing survey. Participation in the survey is voluntary, and the response rate is about 65%. In general, the subsistence harvest in Alaska is around one percent of the overall waterfowl harvest in North America.

View Subsistence Survey Instrument


The most recent comprehensive assessment of subsistence harvest in Canada was undertaken by Wendt & Dickson in 1994 (unpublished report). They reported harvest estimates for all areas where surveys had been conducted at some time during the previous 20 years. For areas where surveys had not been conducted, they derived indirect estimates of harvest. Their report gives estimates of total duck and goose harvest, but no species-specific estimates are available. In general, the subsistence harvest in Canada is around five percent of the overall waterfowl harvest in North America.