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Thread: Decline in caribou numbers

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    Default Decline in caribou numbers

    Did anyone else read the ADN article Sunday about the decline in the caribou herds, worldwide, being attributed to global warming? Have any of you who regularly hunt caribou noticed a decline?

    There was a seperate article on the back of section "A" where a local stated that the herd numbers had been increasing the last several decades and that they couldn't increase forever. The inferrence is, the herds had reached capacity so there will be a normal falling off of numbers. Any ideas?

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    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    Caribou populations are cyclical and dependant on many factors such as range/food supply, predation, disease, and human activity.

    I read the article with the appropriate grain 'o salt considering the source. Unless the GW advocates can tie caribou declines in central Canada and Russia to shifts in vegetation that leave caribou less food then I'm not buying their argument.

    Yes the mean temperature of Planet Earth has risen since we began recording it but that doesn't mean every uptick or dip in some other measured scale is automatically linked to climate change.

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    Default Cyclical

    Most animal populations (assuming a relatively constant habitat) are cyclical in nature. This puts them at odds with what is currently acceptable to humans. Caribou seem to be VERY cyclical.

    According to what I understand, a caribou herd will increase in numbers until it eats itself out of available browse and then crash. There are some other populations (like elephants in Africa) that are the same.

    If my understanding is correct, it will be very difficult to keep populations in check to the point where there is no chance of decline. The Mulchatna herd seems to be an example of that.

    According to a friend of mine, the Quebec Labrador herds are beginning to show signs of a decline. The Nova Scotia herds have declined to the point where I expect caribou to be closed by 2010.

    Of course I can always be wrong but the Nova Scotia hunting pressure has been relatively constant over the increase and subsequent crash of caribou numbers.

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    Yep, I agree, they come and go for many reasons........

    The Western Arctic Caribou Herd WACH has had a decline, from 450,000 to 3hundred something thousand in a what seems to be a natural decline.
    As to warm weather melting snow in mid winter and the resulting water icing their food solid when temps dropped again.
    It seems that kind of weather is becomming common in mid winter here. Its hardest on that years calves.

    Theres also the fact that the food supply sustaining that many Caribou wouldnt be long, as they will eat it faster than it can grow, so the local biologists say its very much a good decline for them in that aspect.


    Theres still plenty of Caribou about , and keeping a good track as to where they are and their condition is a personal habit of mine....


    I personnaly try to keep their Numbers in check, though the strong keep surviving...........
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    Pure speculation, at best. Lots of speculators out there with very little knowledge, but they think they have answers. We heard the same thing not too long ago about the Tigers disappearing, now there are so many they are eating villagers. I take all this with a pound of salt, as the stories have too much in common....emotion.
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    Very true, it is pure speculation Akres

    So whats your speculations/observations on one or two of hundreds of possibles about declining Caribou #s?


    The voice in my head says
    " It could be the Old woman from Point Hope with the .22LR..........again"~~LOL!!~~
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  7. #7

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    You'd think global warming was true since it was raining in Prudhoe Bay today. Snow is melting and there is standing water in places.

    That article is obviously biased, but I think some of the declines where populations are nearly wiped out is a pretty big concern. I wouldn't think global warming would play a very large roll in the decline of the Mulchatna herd (and other herds south of the arctic circle) though. You also have to wonder why some herds are healthy and growing in the arctic while others are in decline. You would think it would be an across the board decline if that was the major factor.

    Is it time to put the caribou on the threatened list along with the Polar Bear?

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by strangerinastrangeland View Post
    So whats your speculations/observations on one or two of hundreds of possibles about declining Caribou #s?
    I will speculate that no one actually knows how many caribou there are or how many there were.

    I have personally watched a few of the bios and counters as they did their workings. Let's just say, their methods were jaded.
    "96% of all Internet Quotes are suspect and the remaining 4% are fiction."
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    Stranger, have you noticed any declines in the past years?

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    Quote Originally Posted by AKDREAMER View Post
    Stranger, have you noticed any declines in the past years?
    Here is stranger's method of noting fluctuations in herd numbers:

    BOOM! (One less caribou)
    BOOM! (That's a nice fat one, one less caribou)
    BOOM! (The hide on that one will make a nice blanket)

  11. #11

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    Individuals are reporting declines in some regions and others are telling of caribou where they have never been before. All leads to more questions than answers.
    "96% of all Internet Quotes are suspect and the remaining 4% are fiction."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Akres View Post
    Individuals are reporting declines in some regions and others are telling of caribou where they have never been before. All leads to more questions than answers.
    Absolutely. I believe the "weakest" link in wildlife management policies is the counting for most species. This weakness is a reflection of the circumstances under which most of these counts have to be conducted and not the competency of the managers (well at least most of the time).
    Some of these species may be a little easier to count depending on location and overall size of the population being counted. Some of these smaller caribou herds might be easier to monitor but larger herds are next to impossible to do accurate censusing. Right at the top of the "list" of animals difficult ( if not impossible to count) are bears. Whenever having a bad day, I just think about the post suggesting the number of bears in a particular area was known because of hair sampling!
    In many of these situations we don't know the actual population numbers and in reality do not have very good working knowledge of carrying capacity or how it evolves.
    Joe (Ak)

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by wantj43 View Post
    In many of these situations we don't know the actual population numbers and in reality do not have very good working knowledge of carrying capacity or how it evolves.
    Joe (Ak)
    Agreed. For instance: In one of my old caribou haunts, an ash cloud from a volcano went over it and for three or four years after that, the caribou avoided the area like the plaque. You would have thought they vanished from the face of the earth. But they returned.
    "96% of all Internet Quotes are suspect and the remaining 4% are fiction."
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    Default That's because caribou like...

    Quote Originally Posted by Akres View Post
    Agreed. For instance: In one of my old caribou haunts, an ash cloud from a volcano went over it and for three or four years after that, the caribou avoided the area like the plaque. You would have thought they vanished from the face of the earth. But they returned.
    ... good oral hygiene.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mdhunter View Post
    Here is stranger's method of noting fluctuations in herd numbers:

    BOOM! (One less caribou)
    BOOM! (That's a nice fat one, one less caribou)
    BOOM! (The hide on that one will make a nice blanket)
    You have no idea how much I needed that laugh!!!!!

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    I too, am waaaaaaay sceptical that ADFnG actually potographs and count every Caribou.~~LOL!!~~ but who knows.....the truth is often weird and amusing...........number crunchers, anyhoo.

    At 1:05, Caribou are not where they were at 1:00oclock. They never stop wandering around.
    They use that big nose and go where the feed is, I'm fairly sure they can smell it in winter very well.
    Caribou eat Moss faster than it grows and need to wander.......


    Theres been no decline of Caribou in my Freezer/shed/drying rack, but the declines weve experianced in WACH have happend to the younger Caribou (calves mostly), and I mostly hunt adults untill August-September, when I hunt calfs too.
    We had a couple rains that froze the feed solid in January and the little ones were too weak to travle far enough to new feed.
    Our Fall is about a week or two longer now (we used to freeze on the last days of Sept, but now were staill at 40+ and holding for at least another week...makes it hard to keep meat. would that be Global warming?

    I wouldnt say Ive 'seen' a decline, but certainly my eyes/brain has noticed shifts in their winter feeding grounds over the years, as well as places that have grown back, where the Caribou havent been for years......and Caribou are returning.
    A fine example is the Northern Seward Pennensula, where the Caribou were wintering by the thousands in the mid 90's.....They didnt come back in big numbers untill last year Yeeee Haw, there.

    Yaaaaaaaaaa.......Mdhunter.....Lotsa "Boom Boom" for this lucky guy........makes the wife happy too.........~~LOL!!~~
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    Quote Originally Posted by strangerinastrangeland View Post
    I too, am waaaaaaay sceptical that ADFnG actually potographs and count every Caribou.~~LOL!!~~ but who knows.....the truth is often weird and amusing...........number crunchers, anyhoo.

    At 1:05, Caribou are not where they were at 1:00oclock. They never stop wandering around.
    They use that big nose and go where the feed is, I'm fairly sure they can smell it in winter very well.
    Caribou eat Moss faster than it grows and need to wander.......
    ...and so they are called Rangifer Tarandus in Latin. Literally, tundra wanderer.

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    Rabbits cycle every 7 years or so, remember bunny baseball from the early 80's?
    Homo Erectus cycled right out of existence, also not due to global warming.

    We had an ice age thousands of years ago which receeded to the ice caps and some thousands of glaciers. Also not attributed to global warming.
    Right now Idaho has fewer muledeer than in the 70's, biologists claim that the winter of 92/93 reduced numbers and now global warming is taking over and reducing numbers still. Yet, Elk numbers are at all time highs. Elk suffered through that same winter(92/93) with high mortality yet numbers have increased steadily to todays bountiful harvest(less wolves). Biologists claim good management is to blame. I don't get it.

    I think sometimes herds of caribou get hoof rot, sometimes all the wolf packs have more babies, sometimes a late storm kills calves, sometimes they eat themselves out of house and home.
    Right now our society has the knee-jerk reaction called global warming.
    We will be in a much better place to diagnose the cause in 20 years, if the herds last that long.

  19. #19

    Default Does Scandanavia have any caribou?

    I know they have reindeer herds but don't know if they have any free-ranging bou. The article doesn't mention any there but I would suspect that it is a more predator-free or predator restrained area than any other. Just wondering if the "wolves and bears are great - can't manage them" philosophy is affecting the natural cycles. Of course the predators are a part of the natural cycle, but if the predation is out of balance it will run prey numbers down. (Not looking to rehash AK's predator control here)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Erik in AK View Post
    Yes the mean temperature of Planet Earth has risen since we began recording it but that doesn't mean every uptick or dip in some other measured scale is automatically linked to climate change.
    You can not take the *mean* temp of a given geological are and make this blanket statement. 2/3rds of the earth is water, therefore monitoring of the oceans will give you a better idea of *global* conditions. Accordingly, the world's ocean temperatures have dropped in the last 10 years which would indicate we are in a global cooling phase. Just because the North American continent has has a 2 degree celcius raise over the last 50 years does not make it *global warming* as Al wants us to believe. Junk science is all.
    "...and then Jack chopped down the beanstock, adding murder and ecological vandalism to the theft, enticement and vandalism charges already mentioned, but he got away with it and lived happily ever after without so much as a guilty twinge about what he had done. Which proves that you can be excused just about anything if you're a hero, because no one asks the inconvenient questions." Terry Pratchett's The Hogfather

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