I've been holding off posting this, but I think it would be of interest, so here goes.
Like all caribou herds pretty much everywhere, the Western Arctic Caribou Herd (WACH) is in a state of flux in just about every way possible. Migration routes seem to be fairly similar to what we've seen in the past, but the timing of the southern fall migration has changed dramatically, and numbers are spiraling down. One of my hunting parties was on a caribou drop camp in GMU 23 last fall and didn't even see a single animal. The report I received was that one well-known charter up there had around 20 parties in the field and only two of them shot anything- and both animals were cows. The caribou just didn't show up until much later, after freeze-up came and the hunters were gone. According to the best estimates I've heard, the herd is down to around 230,000 animals (from close to 500,000 a few years ago). I believe this still makes the WACH the largest herd in the state, but the timing issue is significant, and may cause some hunters to redirect their efforts farther upstream in the migration route- perhaps to the north of the Brooks Range (or at least up into the mountains where some of those bachelor groups of bulls can be found).
Anybody have any thoughts on this? I don't think my information is flawed, but anything is possible...