Historical Spotlight: The Caribou are Back!

June 3, 2016by Media

It was 20 years ago, during the summer of 1996, that caribou once again moved into the central area of the Seward Peninsula in large numbers. This extension of the Western Arctic Caribou Herd (WACH) is now resident on the Peninsula, with calves being born annually in the inland regions. Caribou had been mostly absent since their disappearance during the middle decades of the 1800’s. During those early years the Seward Peninsula herd was so large that many were taken on an annual basis at large drive sites located throughout the Seward Peninsula. It is not known with any certainty what caused the demise of the Seward Peninsula herd, but it was most likely a combination of the naturally occurring cycle of large herd populations, changes in environment or available browse, and higher calf mortality due to predators. Firearms were introduced about the same time as the herd was dwindling, but an earlier theory that firearms were the sole cause of the decline is no longer accepted. Since 1996, Reindeer herders have lost animals as they wander off with the caribou, but as Jim Dau wrote in 2000, “Aside from reindeer herders, most residents of the Seward Peninsula are delighted to have virtually unlimited opportunity to harvest caribou for sport and subsistence.” While the presence of caribou is very beneficial for our residents, the Western Arctic Herd numbers have declined rapidly in recent years. New regulations were recently introduced by the Federal Subsistence Committee for Federal lands within Game Management Unit 23 (north of Seward Peninsula). Please be aware of these changes and harvest your subsistence resources responsibly.

 

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OFFICESWhere to find us?
BSNC is headquartered in Nome, has a business office in Anchorage and site locations and offices across the U.S.
OUR LOCATIONSWhere to find us?
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3301 C Street, Suite 100, Anchorage, AK 99503
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Follow BSNC for news, updates, stories, and opportunities to share in this journey.
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