Ak Hunting News: Why the Decline in Northern Alaska Caribou Herd?
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From an article in the Alaska Wildlife News:
Caribou populations fluctuate naturally. But when the Northern Alaska Peninsula herd began spiraling downward more than a decade ago and not stopping, caribou hunters and Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologists became increasingly concerned.
The drop was dramatic – from more than 20,000 animals in the 1980s to about 2,000 today. Biologists were unsure what was causing the decline but guessed that predation, poor range, disease and parasites might be playing roles.
Hunting was reduced but the population continued to plummet. The population objective for the herd is about 12,000 animals.
A research project initiated by Fish and Game in 2005 aimed to collect data on the influence of nutrition, disease and predation on calf production and survival within the herd. The work is partially funded with special general funds provided by the Alaska Legislature to enhance game management efforts and is a collaborative effort by three Fish and Game biologists: caribou expert Bruce Dale, King Salmon area biologist Lem Butler and veterinarian Dr. Kimberlee Beckmen.
The Northern Alaska Peninsula herd ranges from King Salmon to Port Moeller. Butler said the herd is important for subsistence and hunters have taken a keen interest in research findings.
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