Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
One of the arctic adaptations of muskoxen is the winter coat of underwool, called qiviut (pronounced "kiv-ee-Ute"). Qiviut is an Alaskan native word that has adapted many spellings. The wool is finer than cashmere and eight times warmer than wool. When collected from the few domestic muskox herds, it can be bought by companies or individuals to make garments, and can be sold raw. The rarity of the fiber and the garments makes it very valuable. Managers of 'domesticated' herds supply qiviut to companies and co-operations for use in making garments. A main producer of these garments is the Musk Ox Producer's Co-Operative. (Applied Microsystems and Inc., 1996; Chambers, 1993)
Research is also performed at the Large Animal Research Station at the University of Alaska Fairbanks on nutrition and arctic adaptations which can be applied to wildlife conservation, biology, and many other aspects. LARS has a captive herd of approximately 40 muskoxen. (Groves, 1997)
In some areas, including Alaska, current laws allow hunting if the hunter is selected through a periodic lottery system, though laws vary across locations and countries. There are domestic herds of muskoxen that can be used for meat, though the qiviut of the animal is much more valuable and continually produced. (Groves, 1997)
Positive Impacts: food; body parts are source of valuable material; ecotourism; research and education
- Groves, P. 1997. Muskox. Alaska Geographic, 23/4: 56-86.
- Chambers, W. 1993. Qiviuq. Spin Off, Summer: 48-55.