Category Archives: Foraging

Documenting Change in Nunavut

Here is a thesis that explores climate change through berries near Kugluktuk, Nunavut, Canada. The program is part citizen science as well as documenting the ethnobotany of the region. It includes great summaries of the most important berries and even some recipes!

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Wile Berries in Alaska and their uses

“How are your berries? Perspectives of Alaska’s environmental managers on trends in wild berry abundance” is an article that I found that has a lot of information on wild berries in Alaska, perfect! The article is about a study done on berries, which berries people are eating and the abundance of berries and how it has been changing through the years. The researchers received information back from 73 communities in Alaska. It was so interesting to see which regions favored which berries the most! In the interior their research says that the lowbush blueberry is the most popular, which is my favorite. I’ll attach the link below if anyone wants to see the information on wild berries in Alaska!

Hupp, J., Brubaker, M., Wilkinson, K., & Williamson, J. 2015.  How are your berries? Perspectives of Alaska’s environmental managers on trends in wild berry abundance. Available online: Berries. Accessed on 5 Oct, 2016.

Northern Bushcraft in Canada

Check out this site that has a summary of all the wild berries found in the northern provinces of Canada plus lots more. Northern Bushcraft

Bears and Berries

Bears and Berries

Bears are of serious concern for many Alaskan berry pickers. With many berries ripening around fall in the interior, both black bears and grizzlies are gearing up for winter hibernation and need to consume as many calories as possible. I have encountered many bears while out berry picking and not only is safety an issue of concern but so is the bears need for nutrients. While we know as nature harvesters that we are not alone and we are not dominant we also need to know how to be safe while in “bear country”.

A few safety tips while berry picking; make noise so not to startle nearby animals, be aware of your surroundings and aware that surroundings can change quickly. It is safe to go with another person or in a group, but that is not always possible. Depending on your comfort levels and the location in which you choose to berry pick, a bear bell, bear spray or even a large caliber gun may be recommended. It is also important to have a basic understanding of the animals you may encounter.

Bears are massive wild animals that can weigh anywhere between 200lbs (black bear) and 800lbs (grizzly bear)(National Geographic). They can be nearly as small as a large dog or taller than a full grown man and are almost pure muscle. Berries are important to bears livelihood because they provide a major source of nutrients and are abundant in the wilderness. Bears are also very important to the propagation of berries. A black bear can consume over 30,000 berries in one day and the seeds pass through the bear’s digestive system unbroken and able to germinate (Berries). They can be distributed miles always from the original site and encourage more growth in the following years. These berries contain high amounts of antioxidants and the seeds of some species can contain vitamin B-17, these are both considered anti-cancer compounds by some scientists, and although captive bears have been found to have cancer, no wild bears have ever been reported to have cancer (Berries).

As we know, berries are important to us for our own personal consumption, we also know how important they are to bears. Be safe while you are berry harvesting but also be respectful.

Here is a video of a couple bears eating berries. You can see how fast and efficiently they can consume them, probably better than a berry rake. (VIDEO)  LH Fairbanks

 

“Berries – a Critical Food.” North American Bear Center -. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2016.

Society, National Geographic. “American Black Bears, American Black Bear Pictures, American Black Bear Facts – National Geographic.” National Geographic. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2016.

Society, National Geographic. “Grizzly Bears, Grizzly Bear Pictures, Grizzly Bear Facts – National Geographic.” National Geographic. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2016.

Berries and Survival

Survival of the Berries  Here are some tips about eating berries in the wilderness. I thought this would be a nice blog post not only because it is great information but who knows maybe one day it could save a life. I hike a lot and I actually carry a field guide on me that talks about plants and berries. If I am not 100% familiar with the plant I do not plan on eating it. This  article talks about berries of the rose family being edible (Edible and non Edible Berries p. 2, Angela). That is something nice and easy to remember when hiking out and about.

Berries in the wild

Alaska-Yukon Circumboreal Region Map

Here is a great document with outstanding photos of a mapping project for the vegetation of the Alaska-Yukon Region by Fairbanks researcher, Torre Jorgensen and others. It is an attempt to refine vegetation classification systems using the latest technology.

Jorgensen, T. and D. Meidinger. 2015. The Alaska Yukon Region of the Circumboreal Vegetation map (CBVM). CAFF Strategies Series Report. Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna, Akureyri, Iceland. ISBN: 978-

9935-431-48-6

Circumboreal Map

Variable Wild Harvests in Alaska

Alaska Public Media recently reported on a study that invited Alaskans to report on the quality of their local berry harvests. The study “suggests that the harvests of several popular wild berries are becoming less reliable in many areas of the state.”

Further research is necessary to investigate what may or may not be causing this reported variability, but I have wondered often what sort of changes we might expect to see from berries due to the unseasonable weather we’ve experienced in recent years.

That being said, my picking spots provided ample highbush and alpine blueberries this year! We access them with boats and ample hiking, so picking pressure is low.