Help Yukon River sled dogs through the winter


Recent article: https://www.alaskasnewssource.com/2020/10/06/disastrous-chum-salmon-run-leaves-yukon-river-mushers-without-food-for-dogs/

A few weeks ago, I put out a request on social media for assistance for Yukon River dog mushers , due to extremely poor salmon runs this summer. I tagged several large dog food companies in my post and thankfully (!), one of them, Purina, has generously responded with a donation of nearly 35,000 lbs of kibble! (THANK YOU, PURINA!!!)

I am now seeking financial assistance to help us ship that kibble out to the mushers in the villages that need it most. Purina is generously taking care of transport to Fairbanks, Alaska, but we need to secure funds to ship the food out to rural communities hundreds of miles away and off the road system. Freight to our rural communities is usually done by small planes (our communities only have gravel landing strips - so large cargo planes cannot land there) and can be very expensive. To ship 35,000 lbs of kibble out will likely cost between $7,000 and $12,000, depending on what kind of freight service we are able to secure.

Additionally, while Purina's donation is very much appreciated, it won't last through the whole winter for all the dog teams in need. So I am seeking additional financial support which I will use to purchase dog food locally in bulk and ship out to the villages to make sure we get these dog teams through the cold Alaska winters.

If you're able to chip in $5 or $500, every little bit helps. The poor salmon runs hit our communities unexpectedly and these dogs are part of peoples' traditional way of life... and part of their families.

Any questions? Feel free to contact me via Twitter @salmonstephak

(Photo credits: Courtney Agnes, Tanana, Alaska)


Original request/story:

I am seeking help for sled dogs on the Yukon River. We just experienced the lowest salmon run on record this summer on the Yukon River and it is putting traditional dog kennels in a very difficult position. 

I work for Tribes along the Yukon River, advocating for them on fishery-related issues. Our service area is larger than the state of Texas. Our villages are located in remote Alaska along the Yukon River. Several of our villages don't have stores and for those that do, the prices for groceries - especially heavy items - are exorbitant and jobs are scarce. Many of our residents live a truly subsistence life, getting their food from the land and waters. In a few villages, people still use dog teams to travel in the winter to check their traplines and hunt. Dog teams are usually fed chum salmon throughout the winter and mushers typically harvest several thousand chum salmon to sustain their teams each year. Unfortunately, both of our chum salmon runs crashed this year on the Yukon River and there was no fishing allowed. My organization has been able to secure funds to purchase salmon for human consumption for our elders and people most in need in our villages. But there is currently no means for assisting traditional dog kennels. 

Fishermen tried to use smaller nets to harvest whitefish, pike, and other non-salmon species but they haven't been able to harvest enough to feed their dog teams. I've had several mushers reach out to me. If they are unable to get kibble or salmon for their dogs, they will have to start making difficult decisions. Many have spent years - or a lifetime - building up their dog teams and they love their dogs like family. 

Here are some real numbers of the challenge we face: 

One village alone has 150 dogs that are part of traditional kennels. It takes 7.5 bags of 15% fat quality food per day to feed this many dogs (even still, they have to add fat to the feed to help keep the dogs warm and healthy through temperatures of -30 to -40 degrees F). That amounts to about 1,350 bags of food - or 54,000 lbs of kibble - to get through the winter. I have requests for assistance from at least two villages - but more are coming in. Yes, this is a lot of kibble. Like I said, normally the traditional mushers harvest tens of thousands of chum salmon to feed their dogs through the winter... but we just had the worst chum salmon run on record.
  • Paul Carlson 
    • $25 
    • 17 mos
  • Andi Beron 
    • $30 
    • 17 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $50 
    • 17 mos
  • Rachel Gold 
    • $20 
    • 17 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $50 
    • 18 mos
See all

Organizer

Stephanie Quinn-Davidson 
Organizer
Anchorage, AK