FAIRBANKS (AP) -- The Fortymile Caribou Herd crossed the Taylor Highway this year for the first time in many years, and hunters harvested more than 100 caribou over the Labor Day weekend near the roadway.
More than 40,000 of the herd's estimated 45,000 animals moved into Unit 20E during the first four weeks of the fall season, said Tok area biologist Craig Gardner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Some of those animals crossed the Taylor Highway near O'Brien Creek, something the herd hasn't done in 50 or 60 years, Gardner said.
The movement is another sign that the growing Fortymile herd, which has doubled in size in the last eight years and is now the largest caribou herd in the Interior, is expanding its range.
The big harvest prompted the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and Bureau of Land Management to close one of three fall hunting seasons for the Fortymile herd because biologists expect hunters to surpass the harvest quota.
Registration permit hunt RC865 in Game Management 20E east of Tok closed at midnight Friday. With the reported take at 320 caribou on Wednesday and some hunters still in the field, biologist Gardner said the harvest would probably exceed the quota of 355 caribou set for the hunt.
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