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Shrinking caribou herd may no longer be states biggest

first_imgA rough estimate shows the Western Arctic Caribou Herd is not rebounding from its last several years of declining population.Caribou graze on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, with the Brooks Range as a backdrop. (USFWS)The Alaska Dispatch News reports state wildlife experts estimate the herd’s population at 200,000, down from the 235,000 counted in the 2013 census.Fairbanks-based Fish and Game biologist Lincoln Parrett briefed the Western Alaska Caribou Herd Working Group last week and said the new estimated population size is not exact. An aerial population survey was nixed this summer due to technical problems, and scientists are planning another attempt in mid-2016.The herd was at its peak in 2003, with 490,000 caribou.Parrett says if the 200,000 figure is proven accurate, the Porcupine Caribou Herd along the northern Alaska-Canada border could now be the biggest in Alaska.last_img

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