Changes to caribou hunts, herd quota

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Caribou hunters in Game Management Unit 13 - consisting of Denali National Park to the west, and the Copper River to the east - will see some changes when it comes to harvesting caribou this year.
Hunters will be limited to harvesting bulls-only this season to keep herd population at a normal size - between 35,000 and 40,000. Currently the Nelchina herd is at approximately 35,700 caribou - which is near the lower end of the population objective.
Sometimes caribou will leave over-grazed range or join up with adjacent herds for areas of better forage. Currently, biologists have no indication that the Nelchina herd’s range has been over-grazed. Too many caribou can over-graze a herd's range, leading to malnutrition or starvation.
“The majority of the herd wintered in Canada or by the border, mixing with other herds,” said Glennallen Wildlife Biologist Heidi Hatcher. “We have evidence that some of our animals left the wintering grounds with the Fortymile herd, rather than coming back to the Nelchina Basin.”
Regional Management Coordinator with Fish and Game, Todd Rinaldi, said the goal is to stay within the population objective.
“For a lack of a better term bulls are cheap when it comes to reproduction and so by maintaining as many cows on the landscape as possible, we're also maintaining the possibility of impregnating as many cows on the tundra as available so even with reduced bull to cow ratios, even less than what we were at right now, there's still a good likelihood that there will be high pregnancies rates and so that's what we're trying to maximize," he said.
In addition to the bulls-only restriction and harvest quota, a three-day harvest reporting requirement will apply to all state managed Unit 13 caribou hunts.
Successful hunters can provide wildlife managers the information they need to closely track in-season harvest by filing hunt reports online at https://secure.wildlife.alaska.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=interperm.enter_report_hunterid, by phone at (907) 822-3461, or in person at the Glennallen or Palmer Fish and Game offices.