One of the wonders of living in Alaska is upon us, the frequent opportunities to view wildlife as we go to work or pick up the kids from school. Moose and Caribou are often seen along our major highways this time of year and in the flats near the mouth of the Kenai River. See a car pulled over along side the road and chances are it's not because of a flat tire but because there is a Kodak moment in progress.
According to area biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish & Game, Jeff Salinger, calving season has already begun for the Caribou heard, "This is the most important time of the year for the herd. We haven't done a count yet, we'll be going out June 23rd, but the adults we've seen seem to be in pretty good shape and have good weight and body size," said Salinger. The herd of about 110-120 animals seems to have made it through the winter, which Salinger says was average, in good shape. The overall well being of the herd will depend on the calf survival rate, "The population has been stable, but getting a calf to make it through the first year is the problem, because of predation, mainly loose dogs, only a few make it, so the herd can't grow," added Salinger.
Every spring the Department of Fish & Game encourages pet owners to keep their pets confined during calving season. Alaska State law states that a dog seen harassing wildlife will be shot on sight, "We hate to do it, it's generally someone's family pet, but it's the law, and if people would just keep their dogs controlled, there wouldn't be a problem and the calf survival rate would increase greatly," said Larry Lewis, Wildlife Tech with ADF&G. Even the most gentle, well trained, dog will become a predator and a killer of moose and caribou calves if it is running loose or unrestrained, says Lewis, and that beautiful wildlife photo becomes a very ugly scene.
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