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Kenai Caribou

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  • Kenai Caribou

    This morning down in our valley I heard a noise off in the woods and spotted a lone caribou. It passed by and cut through the trees in a general direction towards Coal Creek lake. I told my wife that if he kept up his travel he’ll join up with the herd in the mountains twenty miles away. At one time caribou were plentiful on the Kenai Peninsula and the sight of them common. But to see them at our house is rare.

    L. J. Palmer, a biologist tells us in his 1938 report that:
    Andrew Berg came into the Tustumena Lake country in 1890. At the present time he has his headquarters cabin at the mouth of Indian Creek. Scattered around the Lake he has a total of eleven relay cabins, which are used in running trap lines. Mr. Berg is now 69 years old. In 1906 he was the first guide appointed and in 1897 took out his first hunting party, a Mr. Dall Deweese from Canyon City, Colorado. In 1920 he served as Territorial game warden.

    Mr. Berg reports that there were practically no moose in the Kenai area when he arrived in 1890, but the woodland caribou were plentiful and wolves numerous. The first moose landed on Point Possession, presumably from across the inlet, on October 10, 1871.

    A Kenai Refuge biologist, John Morton tells us that:
    At the turn of the last century, the Andrew J. Stone Expedition was organized to collect mammals and birds in arctic and subarctic Alaska for the American Museum of Natural History. Professor Stone and his colleagues amassed 873 specimens of 28 mammal species during their forays to Alaska that included staging out of Homer to explore the Kenai Peninsula in 1901 and 1902.

    The expedition collected specimens of a presumably endemic woodland caribou, Rangifer tarandus stonei, with a narrow and long head, and slender antlers with "unusual development of the brow antler and the anterior branch" (see photo). The last Stone’s caribou was killed on the Kenai sometime around 1912-23. The caribou that currently inhabit the Kenai are descendants of individuals introduced by State and Federal agencies in the 1960s and 1980s from the Nelchina herd.
    Click image for larger version

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    And so today I had the pleasure to see a Kenai caribou and a chance to glimpse back into history upon a common sight on the Peninsula, the way it was, and I am grateful to all whose efforts made that possible.

  • #2
    Yea, they're a rare critter around here. I did see a small group of caribou last October between Soldotna and Kenai in a dry slough off the Spur Highway. Another friend of mine seen a couple while he was sitting in church on a Sunday. He was seated near the window and happened to look out. There were two walking through the church parking lot here in Soldotna. Pretty neat.


    • #3
      Saw a couple on the river accross from Cunningham Park last night. We see tham pretty regular there in the spring. Marathon road near town is good to see them spring & fall.
      Vance in AK.

      Matthew 6:33
      "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."


      • #4
        Saw a group of 3 cows Saturday night on Marathon.


        • #5
          Last fall we were trout fishing up off funny river rd and saw one hanging out on the bank of the river. Te year before my buddy said like 5-6 ran through his property...I'd love for the herd down there to get bigger


          • #6
            I saw 9 last week between Soldotna and Kenai on the Spurr Highway just east of Beaver Creek. It is always a pleasure to see these "locals" around!


            • #7
              Saw two on the sterling hwy on our way to Soldotna on monday. About 7-8 mi before Sterling.
              I am no longer surprised at what I am no longer surprised at ---Bill Whittle


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