"Caribou Declines Causing Angst For Hunters Are Part Of Wider Trend"

"There are signs that climate change is depressing caribou numbers, and ongoing and proposed development could make recovery more difficult, experts say".

"Alaska subsistence hunters struggling with caribou declines and lost hunting opportunities got a message at a gathering in Anchorage last week: They are not alone.

Across the circumpolar north, caribou herds in North America and reindeer herds in Eurasia are declining, and in some cases dramatically. In eastern Canada, herds that used to be huge have crashed spectacularly. The George River herd, which numbered over 800,000 and was North America’s largest herd in the 1990s, has declined by 99%, down to 7,200 animals and yet to show signs of recovery even though hunting was halted in 2013.

The Bathurst herd of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut has declined at a similarly spectacular rate, from 450,000 in 1986 to an estimated 6,240 by 2021; phased hunting restrictions culminated with a total hunting ban in 2016. Other Canadian barren-ground herds have declined by 60% to 80% and are listed by that nation’s government as threatened or endangered, as are Canada’s boreal and mountain caribou in farther south regions.

That puts into perspective declines in key Alaska herds, said biologist Tim Fullman, one of the experts making presentations at the All-Council meeting of the Federal Subsistence Board and its regional advisory councils. Those Alaska herds include the Western Arctic herd, which has declined by two-thirds since the early 2000s, the Mulchatna herd, which has declined 94% since the 1990s, and the Nelchina herd, which has declined 83% in the same period."

Yereth Rosen reports for the Alaska Beacon March 14, 2024.

Source: Alaska Beacon, 03/21/2024