Subsistence hunt for Alaska Peninsula caribou reduced

Posted: Tuesday, September 05, 2000

DILLINGHAM (AP) -- Alaska Peninsula resident face a reduced caribou hunt this season, due to a continuing decline in the Northern Alaska Peninsula caribou herd.

The continued decline prompted state and federal managers to reduce the number of subsistence hunting permits for the season to 440. That's down from 660 permits last year.

A recent survey of the caribou population which ranges from King Salmon to Port Moeller estimates there are 7,000 animals in the herd, down from about 8,600 last year.

The herd has been declining for more than a decade after reaching a peak of more than 20,000 animals in the 1980s.

Richard Sellers, area biolgist with the state Department of Fish and Game, says a lack of good winter forage for the herd has led to low productivity and increased mortality.

''On good range, most caribou have their first calf at 2 and 3 years old,'' Sellers told The Bristol Bay Times. ''But we found practically no 2-year-olds and very few 3-year-olds giving birth this spring. Calf weight was also down at birth, reflecting the mother's condition.''

Sellers said there is some concern about the reduced hunt from subsistence users in the area.

''It is worrisome to a lot of folks that traditionally depended on the herd,'' he said.

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