Alaska’s Caribou Herd Grows To Record Numbers On North Slope
A recent survey of the Central Arctic caribou herd, conducted by biologists at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, calculates that the population of the herd is at the highest levels ever recorded.
The herd’s population now stands at 31,857 caribou, up from 27,128 in 2000. This compares with a population of about 5,000 in the mid-1970s.
The Central Arctic herd ranges from the Brooks Range north to the Beaufort Sea and from the Colville River (the eastern border of National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska) east to the Canning River (the western edge of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge). The herd migrates about 120 miles between its summer and winter ranges each year.
The survey by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game was conducted in July 2002, using a camera mounted in the belly of a Dehavilland Beaver aircraft. State biologists reported that calving success was good and mortality rates were low in 2000 and 2001, which led to the continued growth of the herd.