University of Alaska Fairbanks moves reindeer herd to Delta

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KXDF) The reindeer research herd at the Fairbanks Experiment Farm has moved to the Stevens Village Ranch near Delta Junction.

The reindeer research herd at the Fairbanks Experiment Farm has moved to the Stevens Village Ranch near Delta Junction. (Carly Sjordal/KTVF)

Thirty-five of the reindeer were transferred two weeks ago.

The university's Reindeer Research Program has maintained a herd at University of Alaska Fairbanks since 1997 for research on range management, nutrition and feed rations.

Milan Shipka, the director of the UAF Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, stated that it was a common misconception that UAF owned the reindeer.

The reindeer were always owned by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the university held the reindeer under permit.

Shipka said the program is working on a memorandum of agreement with the Tanana Chiefs Conference to continue using the research herd for animal husbandry outreach and research as needed.

He stated that he would like the local community to know that the reindeer research program is still in existence, just its objectives and services provided have changed slightly to be more business oriented.

"While it may have seemed somewhat sudden to people in the community, it really has been something that has been in the works for quite a long time. And was a pretty natural move." Said Shipka.

Specifically, their new focus to further develop reindeer production and use hygienic slaughter practices to increase the value of the meat they sell. The program also will continue to provide husbandry and meat production training.

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