March 22, 2011
NPS News Release

Large Group of Muskoxen Killed in Recent Storm
During a routine flight to radio-track collared muskoxen in Bering Land Bridge National Preserve on March 15, 2011, it was discovered that a large group had perished during a flood. Thirty-two animals were found frozen in the ice on the northern coast of the Seward Peninsula, though it is possible that an additional 23 may be buried deeper and not visible until spring.

This group, containing four animals that had been fitted with VHF or GPS radio collars, numbered 55 when observed on February 14, 2011. On February 25, a winter storm generated a tidal surge and coastal flooding that rapidly inundated low lying areas. The National Park Service is leading an investigation to document the composition of the group and the parameters of the storm that caused the rapid flooding and mortalities.

The monitoring of the four collared animals is an active component of a five-year study on muskoxen population dynamics in northwest Alaska. The cooperative study is led by Dr. Layne Adams, research wildlife biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, and Dr. Joel Berger, senior scientist for the Wildlife Conservation Society and a professor at the University of Montana.

The National Park Service is working with local communities and researchers who may be in the vicinity of this region to minimize conflicts with other wildlife drawn to the area. It is unlawful to remove horns from national parklands, and likely the meat is neither salvageable nor palatable.

Bering Land Bridge National Preserve is a 2.6 million acre unit of the National Park System established in 1980. The preserve is a remnant of the land bridge that once connected Asia with North America over 13,000 years ago.