As most people know by now, the number of caribou in our region’s herd, the Western Arctic Herd, is dropping. It’s down to 201,000 in the most recent count (as of summer 2016); when the decline started in 2003, there were 490,000 caribou in the herd. Alaska Department of Fish & Game plans to do another population count in 2017.
Recent surveys show improved survival for cows and calves. While this might mean better times are coming for caribou, hunters and managers are preparing in case the decline continues. Discussions about reducing caribou harvest and about improved harvest reporting are taking place now.