Results 1 to 12 of 12

Thread: Caribou decline

  1. #1
    Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Yukon Canada
    Posts
    1,289

    Default Caribou decline

    I was reading a paper on the decline of some AK caribou herds most of this pertains to the Southern Alaska Peninsula herd but sounds like the bios think the problems could be widespread.
    The first thing they say is that calf recruitment is low.. as low as 1 calf per hundred cows!! The bios said for the herd to grow they needed more than 25 calves per 100 cows. They figured they had about an 80% pregnacy rate but wanted 95%.
    The thing I found interesting was nowhere in the paper could I find why they thought calf/ratio was so low. Pregnancy rates of 80% would no doubt be enough to grow the herd but only if those calves survived.
    I have never been there but if what I have read is true and calf survival is that low it doesnt take 25 studies and hundreds of thousands of dollars to figure out the problem is whatever is killing the calves!
    I know we were talking about moose populations on another thread where Bushrat said ratios of 12/100 were normal and the population would stay stable, but apparently the Bios think caribou need more than 25/100 for the herd to grow.
    I know you that live in AK already knew about this herd and the problems it faced, but I didnt. And I found it beyond belief at least in the info I could find they didnt try to address the reason calf recruitment was so low.
    Hope this area is one that is getting the predator control!

  2. #2
    Member GAredneck's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Wasilla
    Posts
    460

    Default Predators

    What, we have predators in Alaska? We didn't know that. We'd better do something about it now that we have found the problem.-----It seems as if this is the way our Bio's work up here, Reactive v/s Proactive. They'll let the population drop to all most impossible recovery numbers and then come up with a solution.

  3. #3

    Thumbs up

    Boy o boy o boy,
    Yukon,
    The herd you cite is perhaps the most evident case of mismanagement in the history of Alaska. And the subsequent cover-up that is going on yet today is even more tragic than the event itself.
    The scenario:
    Hundreds of thousands of Caibou within easy reach of Anchorage and Kenai Penn.
    Multiple animal bag limits.
    Same day airborne hunting.
    Air taxi's operating out of Anchorage, Kenai, Homer, Illiamna, Cold Bay, etc.
    One of the Air Taxi's had as many as 1,200 camps in the on a given day. DOCUMENTED
    No Predator Control Program in place.
    Regional Bio busied himself in writing papers and impressing the bosses.
    Couple of successive Volcano eruptions, that spread dust on the caribou range.
    Winter hunting encouraged and tons of money made making meat runs.
    Hunters reporting the declining numbers year after year. They weren't PROFESSIONALS so their word was poison.
    The herd splintered and intermingled with lesser herds, the regional bio had no method in place to track nor ID the scope nor magnitude of this.
    Blame has been placed on the Caribou getting sore knees and unable to migrate, to overgrazing, to everything but the obvious.
    Hunters from around the world were showing up in droves, because of all the hype about the Record Book Bulls of the Mulchatna Herd.

    Having been a part of it, I can only share my personal views.
    Wolves and Bears played a huge role in their demise.
    Greed by Guides and Air Taxi's played a huge role in their demise.
    Trends were ignored by F&G.
    Information from hunters was ignored by F&G.
    The regional bio went on to the next step increase, when he presented his papers and higher level of education that came with it.
    The Bears and Wolves remain healthier than ever and have splintered right along with the caribou.
    We are now seeing how it is playing out in the surrounding area's.

    Had all the facets been managed appropriately the herd would have remained viable. There is now serious discussion taking place that will ultimately turn this around but it will take several years to bear fruit. Hopefully there is not so much opposition that it cannot be accomplished. With the welcome change in leadership within the Div of Wildlife Conservation, along with it will come change at the lower eschelons. It is possible for the herd to return to it's full potential, but only if the wholesale slaughter by wolves, bears and man is curbed. Kotz is experiencing some of the same thing only on a slighter scale, so maybe they can escape the pitfalls of a total collapse. The one thing Kotz has going for it, is that the locals up there are very efficient predator hunters and trappers, as the population and terrain allows for it. Mulchatna did not have this factor.
    "96% of all Internet Quotes are suspect and the remaining 4% are fiction."
    ~~Abraham Lincoln~~

  4. #4
    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Paradise (Alaska)
    Posts
    1,543

    Default Mulchatna Cariboy

    Yukon...

    Here is some of my opinions concerning the crash of the Mulchatna cariboU herd...
    (Iwrote this a few months ago.)
    *******************************************

    I am not aware of why the western Alaska tundra changed. I don't know what caused the white caribou lichen die-off. Frankly, I'm not a biologist or a botanist. Nor am I a volcanologist. But I can say that between 1998 (or before) and 2003 (or since) I never observed any volcanic ash residue anywhere out there (like I could observe in Southcentral AK).

    (Like everybody else) I have also spoke with a few of our biologist, those that might be able to determine specifically what happened, but have never been able to get a specific answer concerning my lichen observations or the herds decline...I mean the herds implosion.

    Perhaps the lichen died due to "tundra succession". Perhaps due to global warming, or the volcanic ash deal, or a combination of everything. But the white caribou lichen did die. It was not all eaten up by caribou as some people have suggested.

    And I have never heard a difinitive reason for the Mulchatna Herds collapse. Some died due to predation. Some of those, those that were limpers, died due to the foot rot deal in the late '90s. We hunters and guides harvested thousands and thousands of bulls and the herds sex ratio got out of whack. Some people will still claim that the herd ate itself out of house and home, which-by itself- is impossible. We have to remember that caribou do... as caribou do. They just do not follow the ecological population models like other ungulate species.

    Another myth was that the herd moved west or north. But ask any Anchorage area taxidermist how many Mulchatna area caribou he took in each year during the '90s. Then ask what percentage he now gets from the Mulchatna area, or west and/or north or the Mulchatna area. The answere will be 1%! The herd did not move anywhere, except up the food chain or to "caribou heaven".

    Yo, these are really just my observations and opinions....like everybody elses...

    ...and with a breath of life back in this thread, perhaps we will hear ten additional reasons for the absence of western Alaska lichen and caribou...

    Ya should have saw it back in the '90s. It was magical.

    Dennis

  5. #5
    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Paradise (Alaska)
    Posts
    1,543

    Default more Mulchatna "olod" info...

    Gods Head of caribou...in the '90.
    In 1994 one camp shot 26 bulls. Smallest was 380. 11 caribou bulls officially scored over 400 and made the B&C book.

    Ya should have saw it/seen it. What ever.
    400 Thousand+ strong they said.
    I used to see perhaps 12 K in the month of Sept. Or 8 K, or 10,647, or 15 thousand (?). It was hard to count every animal.
    It was magical.
    I had names like Paradise Canyon, The Killin Fields, Caribou Pasture, The Serengetti, Bowkilling Elbow, Migration Alley, and other...
    For 13 years (of Septembers) my posterior has been parked on the same three hills (Camp 1-Dolly Varden Camp, Camp 2-Blue Berry Pie Island, Camp 3-Scary Bear Camp... glassing for game.

    An as the white caribou lichen died and turned to dust...the caribou came less and less.
    Although 2000, 2001, 2002 was marginal good for me, no 'bou migrations came through in 2003.
    2004 = 41 cow sightings
    2005 = 23 cow sightings
    2005 = 04 bull sightings, all 300 pt dinks.
    2006 = 00 sightings
    2007 = 00 sighting
    2008 = 00 sightings
    2009 = 00 sightings

    Ask any Anchorage area taxidermist...the Mulchatna Herd, RIP, is essentially no more.

    Out in western Alaska I see more brown bears now than during those glory years of the caribou.

    While flying during the glory years, the tundra hills were so white with lichen that it was like flying during the winter.
    The white caribou lichen has all died and turned to dust, and those previously white hills have grown over with blue berries.

    Ya should have saw it/seen it. Whatever. When herds of 200 came through one after the other day after day...it was magical.

    Dennis

  6. #6
    Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Yukon Canada
    Posts
    1,289

    Default sad

    Kind of a sad story! I had no idea the numbers dropped that drastically. Im sure there were many factors that caused the herds demise, but it would be my guess that 1/100 cow calf ratio had more to do with it than anyone wants to admit.
    With who knows how many caribou being killed every year from predators of all kinds and zero annual recruitment it isnt that hard to figure out. I hadnt heard about the lack of lichen, that would have had an effect to some extent no doubt. But a few years ago down here when we had a real early ice storm that covered the caribou lichen for miles then snowed sealing the food source for the winter the caribou simply moved, so it would be hard to figure out how it would effect them.But I would think hunters/Bios would notice poor malnourished caribou??
    The info I read said 80% pregnancy rate..... that means there were enough bulls or very close.

    The same paper said 1 calf for every 100 cows!!! Well lets see... we know 80% of the cows were bred..... There is no way a herd can survive at those numbers. It doesnt even make common sense to suggest it.

    It really should come as no surprise though they refused to listen when they were told that the chisana herds cow to calf ratio was way to low. That herd went from 1800 in 1980 to less than 300. They tried every conceivable excuse they could come up with because the majority of the Bios were against any form of predator control period. Now look at what has happened... they keep the herd in a pen until the calves are old enough to make it.... survival rates are now approaching 75%. Locals at least on our side have done a remarkable job on the predator end.

  7. #7
    Member hooternanny's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Interior, AK
    Posts
    404

    Default yukon254 good time to stir the pot-

    to my knowledge-no the area is not getting the agressive preditor control to the same level as other areas, and a far cry from what is needed IMO

    they are chasing a few selected wolves by plane and helicopter as we speak in the chignik area. maybe 2 or 3 of them, but perhaps as many as 6 to 8 depending on what you read. but i know of no REAL PREDITORY RESPONCE FOR THE AREA.

    calf survival rates to speed herd recovery is a novel concept. but wolf pup survival rates and bear cub survival rates are another factor they must consider.

    i have found a few bear recipes, and tasted some bear that was edible, but i have yet to find a good wolf cook book.

    do you have any recommendations?

  8. #8
    Member Alaska Grandma's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    little log cabin on the river
    Posts
    645

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by hooternanny View Post

    i have found a few bear recipes, and tasted some bear that was edible, but i have yet to find a good wolf cook book.

    do you have any recommendations?
    Actually a nice fat wolf tastes pretty darn good. Slow cook it with soy sauce, onions and some seasonings, you might be surprised.

    Grandma Lori
    If God had intended us to follow recipes,
    He wouldn't have given us grandmothers. ~Linda Henley

  9. #9
    Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Yukon Canada
    Posts
    1,289

    Default speed recovery

    I wasnt thinking about speeding up the herds recovery although thats a good idea. I was thinking maybe they should have been able to read the writing on the wall, well before the numbers are where they are now.

  10. #10
    Member hooternanny's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Interior, AK
    Posts
    404

    Thumbs down what happened?

    hunters from across the globe got trophy's-

    outfiiters, guide, airtaxi's got there pockets filled with money-

    and the best caribou hunting in the world (by animal size with good density) was reduced to something it can never truely recover from-

    inviromentally there have been impacts as well, but the fact that 5 caribou was the number of animals hunter were once allowed to harvest is the most telling.

    many other parts of the state still allow such high harvest numbers. i do understand some of the factors that go into bio's recomendations for allowable harvest humbers, but to look at it generationally- i.e. (if people can think beyond themselves and the now) there is never a need for more than maybe 500 lbs of meat per year, per adult male.


    overharvest and exploitation, poor management and greed, and on and on............

    no other issue stirs me up more, than the mulchanta herd and it's demise

  11. #11
    Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    NorthWest Alaska
    Posts
    3,639

    Default

    The WACH herd up this way is in decline.
    Maby 370,000 now, down from 450,000.

    The main culprit is mid January rains freezing crust over the moss that the young ones cant bust through.
    High calf mortality in mid winter 3 times this decade, a couple years apart and a recent 3 days of drizzle up here havent helped at all.

    Mid winter warm ups........Im sure I posted pictures of starving calves before...
    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

    "Dam it all", The Beaver told me.....

  12. #12
    Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Yukon Canada
    Posts
    1,289

    Default rains

    thanks stranger, we have had those mid winter rains before too but like I said the caribou just moved. Guess if it covered a big enough area there would be nowhere to go.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •