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Latest count finds caribou herd significantly thriving after decades of decline

Digital writers

Sunday, March 16, 2014, 5:56 PM -

The caribou herd's annual migration between the Northwest Territories and Alaska will be more epic than its ever been thanks to a boom in population. 

According to Canada's Porcupine Caribou Management Board, the Porcupine caribou has grown to an estimated size of 197,000 animals --an increase of 28,000 caribou from the last estimate made in 2010, and the highest since biologists in Alaska, Yukon and the Northwest Territories began keeping records in 1972. 

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"The Board appreciates the positive actions that harvesters have taken in cooperation with the Harvest Management Plan," said Porcupine Caribou Management Board Chair Joe Tetlichi in a press release. "This includes focusing on a bull-dominated harvest and, whenever possible, leaving the cows alone so they can reproduce and increase the overall herd size.” 

Image: The Porcupine Caribou Management Board

Image: The Porcupine Caribou Management Board

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The aerial census photographed caribou found in Alaska, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories. After the numbers of caribou photographed were tallied, the final population estimate was calculated using a correction for the number of radio collared caribou that were not photographed but were known to be alive at the time. 

An estimated two million caribou live in Canada, but many are considered threatened or endangered as climate change and human development encroach on their migration paths. 

Canada and the United States cooperatively manage the herd under a 1987 agreement and in November 2006, the joint board pronounced the herd was in immediate need of conservation. 

Image source: The Porcupine Caribou Management Board

With files from The Canadian Press

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