ANCHORAGE - The Alaska Department of Fish and Game wants to find out how much money wildlife contributes to our state. Researchers surveyed 16,000 people to see where they spend their money and how they interact with animals.
“Some people can hunt out their back door and it doesn't cost very much. Same thing with driving back and forth to work, and seeing wildlife along the road, and then there's the people that pay for a specific tour to go and view wildlife or a guided hunt,” said Mark Burch, a wildlife biologist.
It’s always possible for tourists to spot a bear along the highway while others pay to get a little closer at places like the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.
If you want to take a bear or moose home with you, it will cost you. R & R Hunting takes people on guided hunting trips. The excursions cost up to $20,000, but the owner says that’s just for the guided experience – there’s no guarantee the hunter will get what he or she came for.
“It's like climbing Mt. McKinley, it's like a raft trip. People provide these kinds of trips; sometimes weather, Mother Nature, physical abilities limit or even eliminate the actual goal of their trip,” said Rob Jones.
If hunters do get their trophy, there’s the cost of getting it processed.
“This is what we do for a living. We depend on hunters and fishermen all over the world to bring us business so we can stay in business in Alaska. Alaska is a big draw; it's the Mecca of hunting in the United States,” said Russell Knight, owner of Knight’s Taxidermy.
Each year staff at Knight’s Taxidermy handle thousands of animals, whether it’s mounting the heads or making a rug from the hide. That’s just another cost Fish & Game has to take into account as they figure out the worth of wildlife in the Last Frontier.
The results of the survey will be released in the fall of 2013.