Alaska Families Hurting After COVID-19 Restrictions Prevent Eating of Roadkill Moose

by Jennifer Shea
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An Alaska group that distributed roadkill moose meat to elderly and disadvantaged citizens has shut down, leaving Alaskan families without a vital source of protein this winter.

Alaska Charity Shutters Due to Lack of Funds

The Alaska Moose Federation disbanded last month, the Anchorage Daily News reports. It did so because membership fees from other charities and individuals had evaporated during the pandemic. 

Charities in other states have also had to stop distributing roadkill meat during the pandemic due to social distancing restrictions. In Whitefish, Montana, for example, a local food bank stopped taking donated roadkill because staff and volunteers could not gather as close as was necessary to process the meat.

In Alaska, state troopers had grown used to calling volunteers from the federation at all hours to retrieve roadkill and bring it to local charities. They then got the meat to low-income, disabled, senior and Alaska Native citizens.

“I know these people,” Don Dyer, the Alaska Moose Federation’s executive director, told the Daily News. “I know their needs. I’ve delivered moose after moose. They literally depend on it.”

Food Insecurity Prompts Turn to Roadkill

States like California and Oregon recently legalized salvaging roadkill. And with one in six Americans suffering food insecurity this year, according to Feeding America, people are turning to new food sources, including roadkill.

However, there are risks that come with using roadkill as a food source. The animals may carry E. coli or parasites, for instance. And some cooking procedures – such as making jerky – do not kill off the pathogens entirely.

Some people who salvage roadkill are experienced hunters who are well acquainted with the safeguards necessary when eating wild animals. But as the pandemic strains more households, forcing more to consider new food sources, there will be more inexperienced scavengers.

Meanwhile, the end of the Alaska Moose Federation is bringing new hardships for local families. Alaska State Troopers keep a list of charities to call when they encounter a moose by the side of the road. But most local charities lack the tools necessary to retrieve the roadkill. Without the federation’s help, the task is monumentally more difficult. 

Lance Roberts is a volunteer for Grace Communion International. GCI is a local church that was a federation member, told the Daily News that novice scavengers could get hurt trying to retrieve a moose by the side of the highway on their own. Yet without the federation, the church’s tiny congregation of mostly senior citizens have a hungry winter ahead of them.

“There’s a lot of people who will miss out on meat this year,” Roberts said.

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