How Subsistence Hunting Works

Subsistence Hunting Regulations

Moving­ to Alaska? Then you'll be eligible to subsistence hunt and fish -- with a few exceptions, of course.

­All Alaska residents are eligible to subsistence hunt and fish on state lands and waters, as well as private lands. State residence is determined by the location of your primary, permanent residence. If your summer cottage is in Alaska, you're out of luck. In addition, if you just moved to the state, don't take out your hunting rifles yet. To qualify, you must live in Alaska for 12 consecutive months and have the intent to remain indefinitely.

However, even if you fall under the regulations and qualifications of an Alaska resident and are eligible, not all Alaskans may qualify. Because the state must protect fish and wildlife populations that are dwindling or limited, it may not allow every Alaska resident to subsistence hunt.

On most federal lands and waters, only rural Alaska residents may subsistence hunt based on federal regulations. About 20 percent of Alaska's population lived in rural areas in 1999, and from 1978 to 1989, only they qualified for subsistence hunting [source: Wolfe]. Generally, these rural residents can only fish or hunt on federal subsistence areas near where they live in order to keep the loss of wildlife on protected lands and refuges at a minimum. However, on those federal areas not restricted by federal managers, any Alaskan can subsistence hunt or fish [source: Subsistence Management Information].

Although it's not as widespread in the United States as it used to be, subsistence hunting and fishing are required for some, and it remains unlikely to disappear all together. For more information, visit the links below.

Rel­ated HowStuffWorks Articles


  • Miscellaneous Game Regulations. Alaska Department of Fish and Game. (Accessed 12/8/08)
  • Subsistence Hunting in Alaska. ThinkQuest. (Accessed 12/8/08)
  • Subsistence Management in Alaska. Subsistence Management Information. 1/30/07. (Accessed 12/8/08)
  • Subsistence User's Guide. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. (Accessed 12/8/08)
  • Wolfe, Robert J. Subsistence in Alaska: A Year 2000 Update. Division of Subsistence, Alaska Department of Fish and Game. March 2000. (Accessed 12/8/08)