Mulchatna caribou pass through Dillingham

Posted: Sunday, May 06, 2001

DILLINGHAM (AP) -- Motorists driving Dillingham roads have a new reason to keep their eyes peeled -- caribou.

For the past several weeks the Mulchatna caribou herd has been seen around Dillingham and its outlying areas in numbers from 30 to 300.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game Wildlife Biologist Jim Woolington said the herd is passing through.

''The caribou are moving through our area to reach calving grounds in the Nushagak River drainages,'' Woolington told The Bristol Bay Times.

Woolington said that while the herd moves from west to east to reach the Nushagak drainage calving grounds every year, it's unusual for the animals to move as far south as Dillingham. While this migratory pattern has been seen before, it has been a while.

''We have had herds move through the area before,'' Woolington said. ''In the winter of 1996-97, Mulchatna caribou came through, but that was in mid-winter. It is unusual for such a large number to be seen locally at this time of year.''

Andy Aderman, Wildlife Biologist for the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge said caribou follow no rules when it comes to migration.

Woolington said motorists, snowmachine riders and dog owners should be aware of the caribou and not harass them.

Caribou season closed on April 15.

Not only will snowmachine riders caught chasing caribou have their machines confiscated, but any dogs found chasing or harassing the herds can be legally shot by Fish and Wildlife protection. Observing caribou during this critical calving time is fine, as long as its done in a considerate manner.

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