Alaska students butcher moose carcass to learn life skills

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In this Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019 photo students Italia Fraize, left, Ryley Edwards, center, and Taylor Kamrath cut into moose legs in Anchorage, Alaska. Students in Brian Mason’s World Discovery Seminar program at Chugiak High School butchered a moose in Mason’s classroom. (Matt Tunseth/Chugiak-Eagle River Star via AP)/Alaska Journal of Commerce via AP)

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Students at an Alaska high school have received lessons in anatomy, life skills and Alaska cultural traditions through an unusual study source: a moose carcass.

About 30 Chugiak High School students de-boned, separated, ground and packaged the animal during a recent World Discovery Seminar class, The Anchorage Daily News reportedSunday.

Mason provided an interactive lesson on moose anatomy that produced some squeamish moments. The students processed about 200 pounds (91 kilograms) of moose meat. They plan to cook and eat some of the meat at a dinner and donate the rest to charity.

Chugiak High School said the program with about 125 students and four teachers emphasizes in-depth learning and hands-on activities to enable students to become “multifaceted thinkers.”

The seminar program emphasizes experiential learning — the approach used when the students butchered the cow moose carcass that teacher Brian Mason delivered in his pickup truck.

“You can learn certainly about anatomy from diagrams and textbooks and videos. But getting your hands on an animal is a big part of the science aspect of it,” Mason said.

Mason killed the moose using a special Cultural Educational Harvest Permit from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, which allows game animals to be killed for educational purposes.

Up to 40 permits are issued annually, primarily to schools and villages. Most are for moose, though some are for caribou, deer, black bears and mountain goats, said Tim Spivey of Alaska Fish and Game.

The permit limited Mason to shooting a moose without antlers that was not a calf or a cow with a calf.

Mason had to submit a report describing the animal and his hunt and within 30 days must submit another report detailing the educational or cultural activities that took place using the animal.

The program gives participants better insight into the subjects they study, student Ryley Edwards said.

“We do a lot of things that are more interactive than other classes,” she said. “It’s more fun for learning stuff instead of just on paper.”

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